The Women’s Sports Foundation: A Magician

The good news: The Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF) reads this blog. Could it mean that WSF activists are finally grasping the truth? That they recognize that current Title IX enforcement methods are not working because they create discrimination and disruption in our schools’ athletic departments and that reforming those regulations will permit meaningful implementation of Title IX?

(Not to spoil anything, yeah right).

The bad news: The Women’s Sports Foundation reads this blog. And instead of accepting and doing something about the certain unpleasant realities about Title IX’s unintended consequences — buttressed by NCAA and EADA data, schools’ official press releases, students’ testimonials, etc. — the WSF chooses to recycle its stale and wholly refutable talking points.

In the latest WSF blog post, “Myths and Facts of Title IX,” Kristina Chan writes:

The American Sports Council argues that “men’s cuts are no myth but a phenomenon that has occurred for decades.” However, schools eliminate, support or reduce specific sports opportunities for both men and women’s sports teams for various reasons, including:
• Different degrees of interest in certain sports
• Having to allocate budget resources among sports teams

The statement attributed to us came from our April 9th blog rebuttal of a biased, factually inaccurate ESPN article, “Five myths about Title IX.” We refuted the misstatement that Title IX isn’t causing men’s cuts then, and we’ll do the same now (noting that the WSF post and the ESPN article have eerily similar headlines and content).  Schools have explained why they eliminated men’s teams based on:  “guidelines of Title IX, “ “compliance with our gender balance in athletics relative to our university balance” “gender equity,” budget or a mashup of any of those reasons. The commonality is Title IX and their reliance on proportionality to make decisions. And when schools blame the budget, the real cause, again, is Title IX. Otherwise, they would reinstate teams after athletes fundraised enough money. The Millersville University track boys learned that the hard way. At the University of Maryland, this reality may also sink in for 5 men’s teams: ” with the non-negotiable requirements of the federal Title IX law …In order to save a men’s program, we must also reach the fund raising goal for a women’s program with similar squad size and scholarship commitments.” WSF activists ought to read schools’ decisions a little bit more closely before concocting bogus statements; they’d see that 8 colleges and universities have cut at least 16 men’s teams because of Title IX since 2011.

Chan then writes, “Many critics argue that the majority of females are not as interested in sports as males are. However, there are more than 2.9 million girls playing high school sports and hundreds of thousands more participating in Olympic sports not offered in schools and colleges. It is clear that it has been the lack of sports opportunities that instigated this gender stereotype.”

The only true way to assess the meaning of participation differences between men and women is to survey students to gauge their interests. But the WSF is vehemently opposed to the surveys. Donna Lopiano and Nancy Hogshead-Makar once opined that the survey, “fails to provide a valid measure of women’s interest in sports and, instead, institutionalizes the very discrimination that is and has been the basis for women’s lack of opportunity to participate in sports. The use of surveys rests on the stereotyped notion that women are inherently less interested in sports than men.”

Hm. This logic — or lack there of — is mind boggling. So, the WSF thinks that directly asking students whether they want to play sports and which sports they favor is considered discrimination. They oppose surveys because, according to them, they are rigged, yet in reality, the surveys would direct the outcomes, like the creation or elimination of certain sports. Perhaps because they favor a top-down approach to Title IX enforcement, relying on creating sports without caring whether girls want to play them while eliminating opportunities for men, that they do not want to relinquish control over who gets to influence collegiate sports. It’s time we let the students have a say.

Chan says that Title IX’s three part does not “impose numerical requirements that may resemble a quota.” Then she writes, “the three-part test acts as a benchmark for determining whether or not schools are providing fair athletic opportunities for males and females.” She is clearly referring to proportionality, or the first prong: “Whether intercollegiate level participation opportunities for male and female students are provided in numbers substantially proportionate to their respective enrollments.” The word “number” is in the three-part test! The only way schools can comply with proportionality is through a numerical analysis! (Pardon the exclamations). What is Chan talking about?

And then, the lead-up to Chan’s gran finale calling for a fight for “gender equity”: “Schools need to make gender-conscious choices when they decide how to allocate resources because athletic teams are gender segregated.” No no no. That directly contradicts Title IX — not just the regulation but the actual amendment. Title IX says: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” If schools want to offer equal opportunities to men and women, they need to engage the students to find out who wants to play what sports (or participate in drama, chorus, band, science clubs, etc.) They should not be implementing protocols that dictate how many girls and how many boys play sports.

Opportunities, not outcomes, is what Title IX is all about. The Women’s Sports Foundation should stop making up their own “facts” that have no basis in reality.

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