Give Credit to Athletes for Winning Olympic Medals- not to Title IX.
A standard branding technique that marketers often utilize is to associate a product with a ‘feel good’ event. The Olympic Games always provide one of a kind emotional moments, and brands pay a lot of money to be associated with the spectacle.
The same is done with Title IX.
In a calculated effort to capitalize on the good feeling that the Olympics generates, pundits like to credit every victory by America’s female athletes to Title IX. In doing so, they cross the line from journalism into promotion and political advocacy.
Even before the games started, in a PBS interview, sports journalist Christine Brennan started setting the stage to claim US women’s medals for Title IX.
“…we called the 2012 U.S. team Team Title IX. Well, we can call this team, the 2016 team, Team Title IX as well…”
Sure, it’s great to cheer our winning athletes. They inspire us when we see their determination and sacrifice pay off with Olympic victories. Of course, it’s also great that young women have so many opportunities to play high school and college sports. The ASC acknowledges that Title IX helped insure that women’s teams have equitable facilities, funding, and coaching as their male counterparts do.
But, to grant blanket credit to Title IX for all success at the Olympics by American women just doesn’t hold up to even the most cursory scrutiny. Most athletes that earn a spot on an American Olympic team start their Olympic journey in local club leagues, and as they develop, hone their exceptional skills in elite club programs. Title IX does not apply to these club programs.
Paul Mirengoff at Powerline blog makes this point in his response to Jennifer Rubin’s Title IX promotion piece, “Why American women dominated in Rio,” published in the Washington Post.
In his post titled, ‘TITLE IX IS NOT WHY U.S. WOMEN DOMINATED AT RIO,’ Mirengoff states.
“… gymnasts and swimmers are well on their way to stardom before they hit high school. They are groomed by high power programs that don’t depend on federal support and thus aren’t covered by Title IX.
Rubin points to Simone Biles and Katie Ledecki. Biles was a superstar before she reached college. Ledecki was an Olympic gold medalist before reaching high school, and the best female swimmer in the world before reaching college (she’s just starting at Stanford now). Ledecki honed her skills at private swim clubs and a private high school (a few miles from where I live). I fail to see what Title IX has had to do with her success.”
Also, in her PBS interview, Christine Brennan also noted that women outnumber the men on team USA,
“The U.S. is sending 292 women out of a team of 555.”
However, she fails to mention that the men’s soccer team didn’t even qualify for the Games in Rio. (See ‘USA fail to qualify for consecutive Olympics for first time in 48 years.’) The absence of the men’s soccer team contributed significantly to the gender imbalance in Team USA. So does the men’s soccer failure also count as victory for Title IX?
When it’s time for the Olympics, journalists conveniently forget about all the well documented problems that Title IX’s gender quota has created for male athletes in their rush to promote Title IX.