Sportsmanship, Title IX issues

Has Title IX Gone Too Far In Terms of Guaranteeing Equal Play for both Sexes?

Every sports parent agrees that Title IX, which was passed in 1972, has had only positive results in terms of making sure females have a right to compete in sports, just as their male counterparts have. Numerous studies have shown that girls who play competitive sports come away with higher self-esteem, better physical fitness, better study habits, and so on. Plus, of course, they have a chance to enjoy what we guys have always known about playing sports, e.g. it’s great fun to chase one’s dreams in the world of athletics.

But while certainly Title IX has worked wonders for the most part, we do have some of these anomalies where, for example, boys are allowed to compete on girls’ swim teams…or boys are allowed to compete on girls’ field hockey teams. Now, there have plenty of examples of girls playing on boys’ teams, such as girls competing against boys in wrestling, or girls playing on a HS football team.

But in Massachusetts, there have been episodes of boys playing on the field hockey squads, claiming that since there are no boys’ field hockey teams offered by their schools, they have every right to play with the girls. And they do. And along those same lines, in those schools where there’s a girls’ swim team, but no boys’ squad, the boys can compete on the girls’ team.

The ultimate irony happened a few weeks ago when a boy at Norwood HS broke a long-standing girls’ swim record in the 50-meter freestyle.

Now, you gotta ask yourself…is that right? Was that the intent of Title IX?

Seems to me that there is no easy answer here, but some of the callers this AM made some good suggestions. For example, just have 3 or 4 local high schools band together to form a boys’ swim squad if there aren’t enough male swimmers from one HS. Or, perhaps make it clear that any finishes that the boys put up in the swim meets are considered to be “exhibitions” as opposed to being legitimate.

There’s no reason easy solution here. But as one caller said, “If my daughter has worked her tail off over the years to swim endless hours, and become good enough to compete for a state championship when she’s 17 or 18, it sure isn’t fair to her to see a boy come in and beat her. Let’s face it – – there ARE physical differences in terms of size and strength when boys and girls are in their late teens, and it’s just not fair for the girls to be penalized.”

I think that Dad has a real good point. I’d be curious as to your suggestions or solutions.

  • Don Staffin

    I don’t think Title IX has gone too far at all. I think some individuals have done some absurd things in the name of supposed fairness.

    When I was in high school there was no ski racing team, which was my best sport. Too bad. So I played soccer and tennis. If there had been a girls ski racing team, that would not have changed anything. There still would not have been boys ski racing any more than there was high school boys cheerleading back then.

    People need to get some perspective. If a kid is a good athlete, he or she can find an opportunity in one of the sports that is offered. Otherwise there are clubs or other competitions for the rest. If they want to lobby to add more sports for boys and girls and the interest exists, there are proper ways to go about that. Stop complaining, and stop putting boys in girls’ competitions just because there are a handful of girls who are able to compete with the boys.

  • Aaron Matthews

    The intent of Title IX went off track many years ago. Not only is each girl given more opportunity than any boy athletically, but also academically. I for one don’t believe Title IX was meant to punish boys for being male. Additionally, she is also given the right to wrestle and/or play water polo against boys. Many boys don’t like being put in that position of close personal contact in front of his parents, friends, and girlfriends with a girl whom they do not know.

    If the boys have to deal with being over looked in the classroom and groped by a girl on the mat, the girls can deal with losing to the boys in the pool.

  • Carol

    The courts enforce the proportionality prong of Title IX, not the other two prongs. This forces schools to eliminate opportunities for boys in the name of “fairness.” As long as football counts and as long as there is no “female” sport with similar participation numbers and costs, boys’ teams will be eliminated until there we have football and 2 or 3 other male teams while having 8-10 or more female teams. We see this trend in college and eventually will see this trend in high school. Meanwhile at the intramural, recreation, club and travel team levels…where boys’ and girls’ teams are truly formed based on interest and can be formed by virtually anyone many more boys’ participate and demonstrate interest!

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