Another Way Title IX Harms Female Athletes

I was looking through the New York Times Sports section on Monday morning when this piece about the U.S. Women’s Olympic Ice Hockey Team caught my eye:

In putting together a schedule leading to the Olympics, the United States women’s hockey team hoped to intersperse a dozen or so games against Minnesota boys’ high school teams within its usual lineup of international and collegiate opponents. USA Hockey officials and Coach Mark Johnson thought that boys’ prep teams best replicated the speed of Team Canada, its rival for Olympic gold. And the state’s rich prep hockey tradition offered a bounty of potential opponents within easy drive of the team’s home base in Blaine.

Theoretically, anyway.

But as Michele Amidon, USA Hockey women’s director, learned last April, scheduling proved more problematic than stick-handling through a neutral-zone trap.

Minnesota high school teams are limited to 25 games, and games are booked two or three years in advance, which Amidon said she did not realize. So only three top-level schools could accommodate the Olympic team.

“It’s something we started probably too late,” Amidon said.

Even Mike MacMillan, the executive director of the Minnesota Hockey Coaches Association, whose daughter Jackie played for Johnson at Wisconsin, could not free up a spot in his schedule at Buffalo (Minn.) High School. And he calls Johnson a friend.

“I tried,” he said with a hint of exasperation.

Will that leave the United States team less prepared than Canada heading into the Vancouver Games?

That’s a great question. And if you asked that question at a lot of schools with a women’s basketball program, the answer is yes.

Despite a conclusion that would seem to be patently obvious, plenty of members of the gender quota crowd wanted to curtail their use, saying their mere presence limited opportunities for women.

Thankfully, the folks who run the women’s game at the college level beat back an attempt to ban the use of male practice players, but as we know, there are plenty of other de facto male training partners who have been shown the door. At many colleges and universities in this country, the best and most effective training partners that female athletes have are their counterparts on men’s teams, something that is all too obvious in sports like swimming and track and field.

So, ironically, when Title IX is used to cut men’s squads, the folks who say they have the best interest of female athletes in mind may actually be working against those same athletes reaching their full athletic potential. Ironic, isn’t it, especially when the truth might actually be pointing a full 180 degrees in the opposite direction?

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