The War on the Walk-On Athlete

Over at the American Spectator, William Tucker is doing some thinking about Hanna Rosin’s musings over the future of gender relations. What caught my eye was Tucker’s reference to the destructive effects of Title IX enforcement on men’s athletics:

When boys arrive at elite colleges they are likely to be subjected to “orientation programs” in which they learn they have spent all their lives oppressing women and that all their natural impulses are now illegal. They will soon find the swim team, the wrestling squad or some other favorite sport no longer exists because, under Title IX, not enough girls would go out for equivalent sports.

The latest development has been the elimination of walk-ons — non-scholarship athletes who have not been recruited in high school but try out anyway hoping to make the team. The evil prototype here is Rudy, the 1993 movie about Rudy Ruettiger, a Notre Dame football walk-on who sat on the bench for four years before being allowed in for one play — and sacked the quarterback. Almost all walk-ons are men. This upsets the one-to-one gender balance required by Title IX. In response, team rosters have been trimmed, junior varsity eliminated altogether and thousands and thousands of young men told they can’t try out for sports because an equal number of girls won’t do the same.

This is an issue that we’ve addressed before, most recently in profiles of walk-on athletes like Indiana’s Andy Bayer and BYU’s Jon Kotter. Of course, if folks like Marilyn McNeil got their way, there wouldn’t be any Rudys, Andys or Jons:

“I hated the movie `Rudy.’ It’s time to tell these students: `You’ve got other talents. Go write about sports at the school newspaper, join the debate team, or maybe you’ve got a nice voice and belong on the stage.'”

Excuse us if the walk-ons of the world take a pass at those options. Thanks to IWF’s Charlotte Hays for the pointer.

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