As noted in the national sports news this week, controversy still surrounds the Title IX legislation that we have been living under for over 20 years. In terms of sports and high school recruiting, college recruiting and equality for men and women, this issue may never be resolved. In fact, it seems the more we do to insure equality, the more un-equal things become. The reality is that our good intentions are not going unpunished.
Originally, the Title IX legislation made no mention of sports at all. It was written to insure that equal opportunity was given to men and women when applying for jobs at institutions that received federal funding. It is included as a portion of the Education Amendments of 1972, and has been hacked at ever since to serve specific needs of specific groups and individuals.
Since the inception of Title IX, high schools and colleges have actually cut sports programs for men to create balance between men's and women's programs. In some dramatic cases, bleachers, scoreboards and playing fields have been destroyed to create this 'equality'. The mandate was that if you don't have the same facilities for the girls, you can't have it for the boys. So, down they came. How does that help?
I'm sure in many areas there are more young men involved in physical sports than women. And, many schools are limited in what they offer based on student interest. What has been popular in the past for is what is continued in the future. Introducing new sports is sometimes difficult. I know that for many schools adding soccer was a big deal a few years ago. And, it didn't need to be mandated by the government. And this has impacted high school recruiting.
Years ago when I worked in a middle school, boys and girls had separate physical education classes. This is how it was when I was in school too. I thought nothing of it. The boys played football, basketball, baseball, and ran track and wrestled. The girls played softball, basketball, field hockey, ran track, volleyball and did gymnastics. The boys progressed on to high school with a well rounded knowledge to help them succeed in the sports there. The girls, the same. A few years later came Title IX and the classes had to combine the girl and the boys. Are you kidding? None of these kids wanted to have a PE class with the opposite sex. And, when they discovered that the curriculum would be completely changed they were furious. Boys could no longer have a wrestling program because in a co-ed class girls and boys could not be grappling all over each other on the mats. There was no more football; soccer was added. Baseball was dropped and everyone played softball. Gymnastics was dropped. Basketball, track, volleyball and field hockey stayed. And, they added ping pong, badminton, archery, and other fillers like 'skills and drills' (push up, sit up, and pull up games).
In a nutshell; Title IX may seem like a solution to a problem but in fact has created a new, larger problem for all of us. Students are missing out on specific activities they need and schools are being hit with the cost of compliance with no return on their investment. Expensive equipment sits gathering dust and filler activities that are boring to our kids are in place of real physically challenging activities.