Title IX: An Incomplete Effort To Achieve Equality In Sports

Two concrete conclusions about Title IX can be concluded: football, a sport played primarily by men and developed to showcase characteristics of male bodies, should be treated separately for purposes of analyzing whether equality has been achieved; and, where possible sporting events should be restructured to include both male and female competitions as part of the same event. 

The appellate court held that the district court had erroneously granted summary judgment for Williams on whether field hockey is a contact sport; the school district had submitted affidavits that put into question whether bodily contact was a major activity of the sport in light of how the sport is actually played. The court said, then all single-sex, non-contact sports would be by definition sports that had historically limited opportunities for the other sex. The appellate court also scrutinized the Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, concluding that it referred to overall athletic opportunities for the excluded sex, not opportunities in the specific sport at issue. LSU argued first that there was not sufficient interest and ability on campus to justify adoption of women's soccer or softball, but their suggested standard was that 'an institution with no coach, no facilities, no team, no scholarships, and no recruiting in a given sport must have on campus enough national-caliber athletes to field a competitive varsity team' in that sport. 

At the end of the article, it suggests some ways of moving beyond Title IX: that universities might do more to encourage women to participate in non-varsity skills training and sports activities, that universities might expand participation in and support for intramural sports programs, that universities might reconsider what are sports in the first place, and that universities might consider fielding coeducational varsity teams. His argument began by setting out some of the benefits of sport: healthy exercise, the opportunity to learn to compete, fame and fortune, other opportunities, and the constitutive benefits of the practice of a particular sport in the sense of experiencing the goods that make up the sport. Another feature of the current landscape is the persistent dominance of football among sports for boys and among sports overall. The percentage of girls to boys in sports outside of football equates to 54.7%. Some comparisons where boys(B) and girls(G) play the same or an equivalent sport shows that approximately 3.67 million boys and only 300,000 girls were playing competitive high school sports at the time Title IX was adopted.

While women's sports, basketball, and football have burgeoned, other men's sports have languished by comparison. These improvements are: recognize that college football is a distortion, and should be set aside in considering what equality requires; reconsider segregation of men's and women's sports, not by including women on men's teams or men on women's teams, but by restructuring some sports to involve competitions by both sexes. Setting football aside, it is the only significant college sport played by men only without a corresponding similar women's sport. Reasoning for adopting the rule in the form that it did does not indicate consideration of football as a separate case; rather, it replies to comments by the NCAA and others reiterating the Tower amendment's proposal to exempt all revenue-producing sports from Title IX. 

The changes in circumstances since Title IX was enacted detailed in the preceding section at least suggest that it might be time to reconsider the regulations' application to football. Application of the same number standard to numbers of athletes and scholarships in all sports including football is arguably in tension with consideration of whether the test of full and effective accommodation for all sports is met. 

16 August 2021
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