How Title IX Changes Could Affect Girls Sports Further

By Ter Maat, Sue | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), February 23, 2003 | Go to article overview

How Title IX Changes Could Affect Girls Sports Further


Ter Maat, Sue, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Sue Ter Maat Daily Herald Staff Writer

In 1971, about 300,000 girls played in high school sports in the United States. Today, that number is more than 2.7 million.

Although sports are more popular now, women's social status has improved and the general population has jumped, many educators and politicians believe the increase of women in sports is due to one overriding factor: Title IX.

In 1972, President Nixon signed this piece of legislation that held schools to a higher standard for women's sports and academic achievement. No longer could schools receive federal funding, like grants or federal student aid, unless they proved there were equal sports and educational opportunity for all students.

For instance, in 1971, a judge in Connecticut prevented girls from competing on a boys high school cross country team even though there was no girls team at the school. In 1972, when Title IX was made law, schools had to either let girls participate on the boys teams or start up an all-girls cross country team.

Title IX has been controversial for all of its 30 years. Supporters say the amendment is critical to assuring equal opportunities for all students, while some opponents of Title IX say the way it's interpreted decreases athletic opportunities for men, and for many females it has no lasting or real benefit.

The latest firestorm revolves around a set of recommendations recently issued by the U.S. Department of Education's Commission on Opportunity in Athletics, a panel of sports experts selected by the department specifically to review Title IX.

While 14 of the 24 recommendations to be forwarded were unanimous, the panel deadlocked on one of the more controversial aspects: compliance.

In a 7-7 vote (one member of the 15-member panel could not vote), the panel recommended that colleges would be in Title IX compliance, and therefore be eligible to receive federal money, if 50 percent of spots on teams are reserved for female athletes, according to the National Women's Law Center.

Some interest groups say this is unfair, since women make up 56 percent of college students in the country.

Also, these groups object to the Office of Civil Rights, the government body charged with enforcing Title IX, allowing "interest" surveys as a way of demonstrating compliance.

If this recommendation is adopted by Education Secretary Rod Paige, universities would send out surveys to incoming freshmen to gauge their interest in sports, said Rita Simon, a professor at American University, who was a panel member. …

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