Title IX Soccer Settlement in NYC Puts Girls and Boys on the Sidelines

Back in May 2009, we called attention to the fact that female soccer players in New York City were opposed to a plan to move girls high school soccer to the Fallso it could compete in the same season as boys soccer. The move was spurred as part of a settlement forced on the the Public School Athletic League (PSAL) by the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU).

The parents of three girls sued the city claiming that their daughters were being discriminated against because playing their matches in the Spring meant having to choose between club and high school teams and limited their exposure to college recruiters.
On the other side were players, parents and coaches who claimed that there simply weren’t enough soccer fields in the five boroughs to accomodate both girls and boys in the Fall. Wanting to avoid a costly law suit, the PSAL settled and arrangements were made to move girls soccer to the Fall beginning in 2009.
The result: pretty much what the folks opposed to the plan said it would be — there aren’t enough fields for everyone to play in the same season. The following comes from today’s edition of the New York Daily News:

By Sprance’s count, boys teams forfeited 84 soccer matches and girls squads forfeited 82 matches a year ago, and 300 fewer girls played soccer after the realignment took effect last fall.

Nearly a month into the 2010 season, Sprance has counted 59 girls forfeits and 45 for boys. Two boys programs and two girls programs have already been dropped, and Sprance estimated that more than 500 girls will have stopped playing soccer as a result of the season switch.

Remember: the suit was filed on behalf of just three girls soccer players.

Meanwhile, the original settlement agreement included a provision that the new schedule would be reviewed after three seasons. Unfortunately, no process has been put in place as of yet to even hold that review. According to the story in the New York Daily News, most coaches have decided not to make noise because they don’t feel like they can fight City Hall, but a private poll of 16 soccer coaches — 8 boys and 8 girls — found that the group supported moving the girls season back to the Spring by a vote of 15-1.
So, in short, the politicians and the lawyers are happy, but the parents, coaches and actual players are perplexed by an arrangement that’s resulted in games getting cancelled, schools eliminating soccer teams and hundreds of girls giving up the sport altogether.
Over and over again, the College Sports Council gets labled as a “men’s sports” organization. But as this story shows clearly, the unintended consequences of Title IX can strike girls and women too — and it’s a story that doesn’t get told often enough.

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