Sunday, March 7, 2010

Title IX

Manali’s post on diversity in the college admission process represents one of many controversial issues educational systems face with race and gender. In high school I was involved in several sports both in school and outside. At this time I watched my sister go through the college application process with intentions of running division one track. As a white female with adequate grades she was recruited to run at Columbia University. A few years later I was recruited by her coach to run as well as play soccer at Columbia. Student athletes often receive criticism for being favored in application processes as well as differential treatment throughout their college experiences. There is no question neither my sister nor I would have been granted admission to Columbia had it not been for athletics.

I apologize for the personal story but I promise that I am getting to a point. My interest in sports in high school led me to write one of my final research papers on Title IX. Originally Title IX was an equal opportunity in education act. The law states: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance…”

The law applies to schools or institutions that receive federal funds. Universities are required to provide equal opportunities based on sex for athletic programs. While there are other facets under the act, athletics have received the most controversy and attention. Several factors are considered when determining if equal treatment exists within athletic programs. Is there an equal selection of sports and competition levels to accommodate both sexes? Is there equal access to equipment? These are just a few examples of factors considered.

The controversy surrounding the act claims that males suffer under Title IX. While the act strives for gender equality, some complain that male athletes are negatively affected. Since Title IX’s enactment there has been substantial growth in the number of females who participate in sports and receive sports scholarships. These advances lead to more opportunities for females to compete at elite levels like the Olympics.

Studies have proven these benefits for female athletes. Studies have also shown the lack of enforcement surrounding the act. The Office for Civil Rights rarely follows through on investigations of schools failing to meet Title IX regulations. I think it would be an interesting discussion for our class to investigate the Rhodes athletic department. Does Rhodes provide equal opportunity for female athletes?

If interested in more information this is a helpful website.


  1. I think you raise several profound points. Firstly, the need to create legislation such as Title IX reflects the grossly marginalized female athletics departments that has been the norm for centuries. Secondly, you point out the flow in those who believe that by promoting female athletics (that have been long been ignored), one is consequently putting male athletics at a disadvantage, when perhaps we should all acknowledge and appreciate the benefits in advancing equality among sexes. Thirdly, you point out the lack of enthusiasm or attention granted to upholding this act, which may also comment on the objectives of the Office for Civil Rights. Fourthly, your connection to Rhodes campus immediately triggered my memory of looking at Rhodes' athletics department before applying, finding Rugby included in the list, and then getting here and realizing that they meant male Rugby.

  2. I think that Rhodes' athletic department does have a tendency to be sexist. Some overt examples are the equipment in the fitness room (medicine balls and swiss balls in sizes designed for men, not providing ones meant for women), an obvious catering to male athletes in the training room, and the usual focus on football, baseball, and male basketball in advertising and faculty interest. Certainly not profound impediments to female athletes, but definitely bars on Frye's cage.

    Title IX plays a big role in regards to softball, though. Any time baseball gets anything cool (like lights on their field), they are contractually obligated to get the same done to ours. In some cases this has resulted in baseball fundraising for equipment that benefits us because they can't buy things with their own money if we don't have them, too. While I see the need to keep male and female sports equal, I do think we get bogged down by the thought that legislation can eradicate sexism. The simple fact that we have to have this law shows how far we still have to go in making the sexes equal.

  3. I t think Armanda said it best: the fact that there has to be legislation for this proves just how far from equality we really are. Legislation rarely makes immediately impacts, as there are still deep lingering racism even though after the passing of other civil rights legislation. And the weight room point is interesting: I don't believe the male population in general really considers that females work out and train for their sports too, which is grossly inaccurate. Another example of misconceptions that dictate reality, like the lack of equipment for women in the BCLC.


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