Hooray Female Olympians (and Title IX)

This year’s Olympics will bring an important change for American athletes.

American women were not exactly a powerhouse at the 1972 Summer Olympics: They won just 23 medals, compared with 71 for the U.S. men. The women were absent from the medal podium in gymnastics. They didn’t win a single gold in track and field, managing just one silver and two bronze.

But something else happened that year. The U.S. Congress passed Title IX, which bars sex discrimination in education programs receiving federal money. Sports wasn’t the focus of Title IX. In fact, quite the opposite.

Well, not exactly true, but since few remember (or care to remember) that Title IX was sold to the public as a means of offering women parity in athletics, there’s no reason not to completely revise history to conform to whatever current trends demand.

At the 2012 Olympics in London, U.S. women won more medals than American men — 58 to 45 — for the first time. London also marked the first time the U.S. sent more women to the games than men.

And in the Rio Games that start Friday, American women will again outnumber men (292 to 263), with the U.S. women heavily favored to be the more decorated half of the mightiest Olympic team in the world.

In many team sports, especially those widely played at American universities, U.S. women have become all but invincible.

That’s great, that U.S. collegiate women will be “all but invincible” in Olympic competition. Their success and prowess is a wonderful thing, and the fact that Title IX allowed women to engage in sports as they desire is a testament to its value.

The rise of women’s sports mirrors the greater prominence of women in every facet of American life, from the Olympics to this year’s presidential campaign.

But there’s a problem that appears to have not made it onto NPR’s radar, or perhaps its political agenda.  One would surmise from the post that not only have women come to prominence, but men have stumbled, failed, fallen off the pedestal.  Why not both American men and women? Why are American women doing so well, but American men can’t compete on a world stage with men from other countries?

And here is the underbelly of Title IX. Because colleges and universities have been constrained by the DoE’s simplistic application of Title IX to maintain general parity in the numbers of males and females in sports, and since sports is a huge revenue generator for universities, school have emasculated male athletics to match the limits of female interest.

Do they cut the football team? Oh no. That’s where the money is. The basketball program? Are you suffering from March madness? They cut the non-money sports for men. You know, the sports that prevail at the Olympics. It’s not that colleges don’t want to offer guys sports that will never have a professsional future, or make big bucks, but they can’t if there aren’t enough women, overall, to match the number of men who want to play.

This isn’t meant to detract from the success of women, or to suggest that women shouldn’t be allowed to participate in sports.  But let’s not forget it comes at a price, and if you want to know why the United States men aren’t doing as well as they used to, without regard to how well the women are doing, look to the same Title IX.

Don’t blame the law. Blame the DoE for the way in which it enforces the law. At the expense of males.

9 thoughts on “Hooray Female Olympians (and Title IX)

  1. Richard

    It also comes at the expense of girls who are interested in physical activities which don’t meet the narrow definition of “sports.” In many school systems participation in dance and cheerleading programs, which tend to appeal to a broader range of girls, is limited due to space while open places in the girls’ “sports” teams go unfilled.

    1. SHG Post author

      It’s all just a numbers game to the DoE, because equality is easier when you don’t have to actually think.

  2. Frank

    Note that the first gold was won by a woman. That’s the only reason why the lamestream media is reporting it, because it was won using an “evil baby-killing assault weapon.” OK, it was a $45,000 match air rifle, but no one with a journalism degree is going to be able to tell the difference, and last Olympics the shooting sports were all but ignored.

    Never mind that the marksmanship teams under the NCAA are pretty much even-steven as regards to the number of men and women participating.

  3. Noel Erinjeri

    The NCAA shares part of the blame. Div. I football teams have 85 scholarships to give away, and around half of them will never see significant playing time. If they went down to 53 (NFL roster size), that’s a water polo team, or a tennis team PLUS a rowing team.

    1. SHG Post author

      It’s money. Get a Div 1 bowl bid or win a conference championship and the school gets a windfall. Win the water polo championship and you feel mighty good about yourself and might make the Olympic team. Which interest does the NCAA exist to serve?

      And just because Div 1 football allows for 85 scholarships doesn’t mean schools have to use all of them.

      1. Lurker

        Mostly, it is about prestige, not money. While a few Div. I football teams may be revenue-generators, most US college football teams are insignificant in terms of revenue. In fact, if they do generate any revenue at all, it comes as increased alumni contributions, and even this connection has not been really proven.

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