A clarion call for Title IX reform

I don’t imagine Sports Illustrated or espnW will be inclined to get into this at all during their rhapsodic celebrations of Title IX, but there are those who believe the law needs to be re-evaluated after 40 years — and even reformed.

And, contrary to what you may hear, they are not all people who hate women’s sports, or who wish for Title IX to go away.

The Independent Women’s Forum has trotted out this analysis of what it calls “Title IX’s Mid Life Crisis” with some suggestions to retool the sports regulations back to the original intent of the law. That’s a clever and apt title for what those of us critical of the interpretation of the law believe is a good law with antiquated provisions.

There are some sensible ideas here, and last year I devoted posts here and here for specific ideas. Changing course is necessary not just to diminish the harm caused to some male athletes in certain sports, but also to reflect the current status of female college athletes now, and not 30 years ago.

However, I do wish the IWF, which is a conservative organization, would cool it with partisan dog-whistle language. It’s not because I consider myself fairly liberal. I’m no fan of proportionality, but insisting on using “quota” will not engender a wider reception of its ideas.

The IWF and the American Sports Council use the “q” word like sports feminists gripe about the “patriarchy.” After a while, it gets tiresome, as entrenched battle lines harden and opposite sides tune one another out. Like so much of American political “discourse,” the rest of us feel left out.

Americans, male and female, support the intent and spirit of Title IX, and they support it overwhelmingly — for academics, athletics and everything else the law was meant to address. Those who believe the implementation of the law as it pertains to sports has gone wrong need to make a very compelling case for why the regulations need to be revised.

Given what they are up against, the task of cutting through the dogma and uncritical cheerleading needs to be as broad-based as possible.

The IWF gets it mostly right, but not quite.

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One Comment

  1. Bern
    Posted May 6, 2012 at 3:06 am | Permalink

    Good take, as usual. Problem is that you’re a voice crying in the wilderness on Title IX. Seems to me that the women’s sports intelligentsia continues to feel that their progress over the past forty years just means they should push that much harder for more of the same. I assume you read the ESPNW pieces and blog comments on Title IX. The true believers aren’t going anywhere. If anything they’re flipping the bird to everyone that doesn’t agree them, including you by name.

    I also agree that the Independent Women’s Forum is way over on the Right, but they are generally accurate in their piece. The issue as I see it is the IWF ‘s “core problem” of Men and Women not being the same flies directly in the face of the bedrock gender feminist theory of the social construction of sexuality which of course most of those in charge of women’s sports administration and compliance are fully invested in.

    So it looks to me the only way to approach it is full speed & head on. They would rather melt everything down than change. Given the tone and frequency of the less than positive comments on the ESPNW blog relative to Title IX it seems we are probably seeing some momentum being built on the side of reasonableness.

    We’ll see how it goes. I’m thinking that more truth needs to be told. Thanks for getting the ball rolling. We’ll be working on getting more information out there in the near future.

    You should think about putting your views in book form.