More Willful Disbelief on Title IX and Men’s College Soccer
Last week, we pointed to a column by Dwight Collins at Ocala.com that made the case that Title IX was retarding the competitiveness of the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team. While we’re not experts on international Soccer here at Saving Sports (though we watch quite a bit of it), we know more than a little bit about how Title IX has harmed men’s sports at the collegiate level, and we couldn’t help but agree with Collins when he pointed a finger at Title IX.
And as we wrote last week, the numbers back him up:
According to those sources, there were 377,999 boys playing high school Soccer in the U.S. in the 2006-07 academic year, while girls high school programs boasted 337,632 participants. Yet, when it came to college Soccer on the Division I level, women’s programs outnumbered men’s programs, 300-195.
That’s right, on the national level, even though girls and boys participate in Soccer in roughly the same numbers in high school, women have more opportunities to compete in college by a factor of 3-2. That’s set up a number of crazy situations:
* BYU’s men’s team needs to play in semi-professional league in order to compete so the school won’t run afoul of Title IX enforcement;
* Massive athletic conferences like the SEC offering Soccer for women but not for men;
* Tens of thousands of boys play high school Soccer in Texas, yet the state only boasts a single Division I program at SMU.
Yet, some folks still refuse to believe what’s staring them in the face, even when they’re the ones presenting the statistics. Here’s a passage about the Collins column from Fake Sigi* that had me shaking my head (emphasis mine):
[F]or 1981-1982, the first year covered in the report, there were 521 men’s soccer programs, 182 of those in Division I, with 12957 and 4631 participants respectively. In 2007-2008, there were 775 men’s soccer programs, 198 in Division I, with 21,031 and 5,556 participants respectively.
For the women, in 1981-1982, there were 80 women’s soccer programs, 22 of those in Division I, with 1855 and 520 participants respectively. In 2007-2008, there were 956 women’s soccer programs, 307 of those in Division I, with 22,682 and 7955 participants respectively.
So, no matter how you cut it, there are more men’s and women’s programs than there were in 1981-1982, and there are *far* more participants for both genders. In short, so much win.
Huh? How in the world can you look at those numbers and not see that the size and scope of women’s college soccer has completely eclipsed the men’s game in terms of both teams and numbers of participants? Please keep in mind that on a national level in American high schools, the gender balance in soccer participation is roughly even. So, if we’re talking about promoting equality, it sure looks like the men are on the short end of the stick.
At bottom, the reality is this: there are thousands of young men who would kill to play college soccer in the U.S. but aren’t allowed to. And the only reason that they can’t is because the schools they attend can’t grant the sport varsity status for fear of running afoul of Title IX.
*For those of our readers who might be confused by the title “Fake Sigi,” it refers to Sigi Schmid, one of the most successful coaches in American soccer. Between 1983 and 1998, Schmid’s UCLA men’s soccer team made 16 consecutive appearances in the NCAA tournament, winning the national title three times. After his collegiate coaching career, Schmid moved onto Major League Soccer, where he has more victories than any other coach in addition to a pair of MLS Cups.