Sports Are About Athletes, Not Gender Ratios

In the public discourse, we rarely hear the case for Title IX reform. So it’s refreshing to see someone advocate for common-sense changes that would recover the law’s original intention – equality of opportunity – for the benefit of student athletics and beyond.

In The Rocket, the Slippery Rock University newspaper, student and assistant sports editor Kristin Karam astutely observes that men are significantly disadvantaged by the law’s regulations. At her own school, she has witnessed how men are particularly affected by proportionality, which requires the number of male and female athletes to match the number of male and female students. Decision-making based on gender is not only consequential but also contradicts the purpose of Title IX.

She writes:

I’m all for women getting the opportunity to participate in sports, but I don’t like that some sports have been negatively affected. Many schools have had to push sports down into the club category in order to comply with Title IX. If something is a sport, it deserves to be recognized as such regardless of gender. For example, our men’s lacrosse team is considered a club, but I feel they have the right to be recognized as a school sport just like the women do.

Also, I don’t feel that it is fair that teams should be weighted so that they follow Title IX. Rosters should be based on talent levels, not on gender rations. For example, take a look at our cross-country team. There are so many female runners, which is awesome, but to keep numbers fair, there are very few males. I don’t understand how it is fair to turn away men that have the talent and want to participate just to keep things statistically even.

Don’t get me wrong, Title IX has done amazing things for women’s sports, but I feel that by continuing to focus on gender statistics, we’re holding many athletes back. We’re taking scholarship opportunities away from athletes that attend universities that don’t list their sport as a sport. Similarly, I feel that we’re holding ourselves back as well. We’re trying to get to a place of equal opportunities for all, but we’re constantly dividing the numbers and looking for issues or something to blame.

Bravo to Ms. Karam for bravely speaking up for the well-being of both men and women. We hope that others join her in calling for a better interpretation of Title IX.

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