The deluge of celebratory media coverage in recent weeks over the 40th anniversary of the enactment of Title IX has been remarkable.
On Saturday, ESPN Classic filled in some of that gap with a substantive documentary, “The Battle of Title IX,” that did more than cheerlead about the women’s sports revolution and airbrush away controversy over how the law is being enforced. It tackled the issue head on, treating the concerns of displaced male athletes with respect, instead of using it to blame “King Football.”
The same goes for a package of articles from “Only a Game,” NPR’s weekly sports program. “Title IX’s Impact on Men’s Sports” is the second most popular link on the website of WBUR, the Boston NPR affiliate that is “Only a Game’s” home base.
These are longstanding issues that will not go away, no matter how much the Title IX establishment wants to ignore them.
But as I wrote last year in my blog series “Women’s Sports Without Illusions,” there’s so much more to women’s sports than Title IX. Producing that series inspired me to expand on those ideas, and I’m proud to announce I’ve just published an e-book on the subject.
“Beyond Title IX: The Cultural Laments of Women’s Sports,” explores, as the title indicates, more than just the controversial application of the law.
These issues include fairly recent complaints about a pink football locker room at a Big Ten university and a Sports Illustrated cover photo of a fully clothed champion female skier as an unwitting phallic symbol, as well as cries of media “invisibility” as women athletes are seen on television more than ever.
There are also continuing denials of undeniable physiological differences between men and women, and as a result, growing calls for the wall of sex-segregated sports to be torn down completely.
This litany of grievance gives women’s sports a bad name, far more than protracted battles over Title IX ever have. You may not have heard much about this, since many of the individuals I profile in this book are regarded by the mainstream media as “experts” in Title IX and “scholars” of women’s sports. In truth, they are ideologues who peddle dubious theories based on women as an oppressed class, rather than as individuals making their own decisions about how they experience sports in their own lives.
In that sense, these leading figures of women’s sports have flouted the spirit of a movement that has lost its way. I will have excerpts from the book posted here the rest of the week, starting with the first part of the book, “The Paradox of Equality,” which explains how even leading women in sports have struggled over the years to define what equality in sports is supposed to mean:
“The continuing problem with Title IX isn’t that there is a law, or a need for enforcement. It’s about how this is to be done, 40 years after its passage, and three decades after the creation of sports compliance regulations that have largely done their job.
“Title IX was never meant to exact a numerical result. The stalwart work of activists and friendly courts has flouted the true intent and spirit of the law, with the Brown case serving as a tipping point.
“Instead of abiding by what Congress had in mind when it passed the law, activists today condemn any suggestion of reworking the sports regulations — not the statute — as heresy, as an attempt to ‘weaken’ Title IX and set back women’s sports. They are hysterical, they are loud, they get mainstream media outlets to do their bidding and they dial up a slew of lawyers as they did when they were fighting justified battles two and three decades ago.
“But American society has evolved more than they will acknowledge. The most powerful entities in college athletics know that women’s sports is here to stay, and our history of social progress has always included a re-evaluation of laws and regulations.
“After all, the civil rights, feminist and gay rights movements in America have fought to strike down laws and court rulings that were unjust and immoral and treated individuals in those groups as second-class citizens. Revising the Title IX sports regulations to reflect where women athletes are now, and not the 1970s, is a needed step firmly with the future in mind, while activists remain stuck firmly in the past.”
For the price of an iced double tall frappa-foo-foo coffee whatever, you can buy the whole book. If you’re a member of Amazon Prime, it’s free. Regardless, I would like to know what you think.