Female Athletes Don’t Need Title IX

Earlier this week, CSC Chairman Eric Pearson pointed me to the following editorial that appeared on MassLive.com:

American women athletes, draped with gold, silver and bronze medals at the Vancouver Winter Olympics, offer shining proof that playing sports isn’t just for men.

The achievements of skiers Lindsey Vonn, Julia Mancuso and snowboarders Hannah Teter and Kelly Clark – all Olympic medalists – also offer sparkling evidence that when government steps in to even out the playing field between girls and boys, young women leap to the challenge.

Today’s U.S. female athletes probably take their opportunities for granted. But they owe their accomplishments, in large part, to Title IX …

To which we say, hold on just a second. When you start poking around for information on any of the skiers mentioned in the above passage, it’s impossible not to be struck by the fact that there s absolutely no evidence that any of them competed in any sort of intercollegiate athletic competition. In fact, the only evidence I could find that any of them attended college was a few references to Vonn taking someextension courses at the University of Missouri.

In other words, while these four women are incredible world-class athletes, there’s absolutely no evidence that Title IX was responsible for their success. Pearson noted something similar back in 2005 after the Wall Street Journal claimed that Title IX helped pave the way for race car driver Danica Patrick:


Perhaps the Wall Street Journal should have done a little research before asserting this claim, or maybe they chose to willingly join the myth-makers who like to link the success of every female athlete, like the tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams, to Title IX even though they never participated in college athletics.

Danica Patrick is a race car driver. She has been recognized for some time now by racing insiders as an up and coming driver of exceptional driving skill and athletic ability. Her recent fourth place finish at the Indianapolis 500, coupled with her blisteringly fast qualifying runs has now established her as a talent to be reckoned with. Mainstream media pounced on her story because she is a woman. Granted, other outstanding female drivers like Sara Fisher, Lyn St. James, and Janet Guthrie have qualified for this great race, but never has Title IX been credited for their successes. Perhaps, in their cases, the Title IX myth-making machine had not yet fully ‘got up to speed.’


For the Wall Street Journal to assert that Title IX helped Danica Patrick in her racing career marks a milestone in shabby reporting- there is no connection between the two. Unfortunately, this is part of the mythicizing of Title IX- claiming that the success of all our great female athletes is due to Title IX. Danica is an outstanding competitor in her field. She is living proof that women do not need Title IX’s gender quotas to thrive.

Which begs the question: if women don’t need Title IX in order to thrive in sports, then why does the rigid system of gender quotas still exist?

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