April 30, 1997 in City

Jig’s Up For Bias In College Sports

Jamie Tobias Neely For The Edit
 

In the years since Rosa Parks refused to relinquish her seat on that Alabama bus, white passengers have learned to take turns standing up. In today’s history books, no one weeps for them.

Eventually, the discomfort of those who oppose Title IX, the federal mandate that requires equal sports participation for women athletes, will appear similarly insignificant.

Privileges afforded male college football players, such as bloated budgets, fat player rosters and game-night hotel rooms, are simply unfair. So is the fact that men receive $179 million more in athletic scholarship money than women in this country and play for coaches who are more highly paid.

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court let a lower court ruling stand that requires college athletic programs to mirror student enrollment. That means if 47 percent of the students are women, as they are at Washington State University, then 47 percent of university athletes also must be women. That is the case at WSU.

But it’s rare. At Whitworth College last year, 59 percent of students were women and 41 percent were men, yet athletic participation rates were just the reverse. Ratios at Gonzaga University and North Idaho College also were poor.

Now, colleges must stop spending money on lawsuits and start spending more to obey the law.

Women athletes gain the same benefits from sports as men do: discipline, confidence and personal and professional success. In a survey of female executives at Fortune 500 companies, 80 percent categorized themselves as former tomboys. It’s no wonder. Through sports, women can see themselves not as sex objects but as women in control of their own bodies and destinies.

Critics argue that females aren’t as interested in athletics as males are. But mothers of today’s elementary school girls would disagree. As girls in the 1960s, these women rarely were allowed to play team sports. Yet today, they spend an astonishing amount of time and money supporting their daughters’ athletic interests. These women regularly shell out for $90 soccer shoes, cart carpools of girls to softball games and struggle in the basketball stands to recognize a flex offense when they see one.

New traditions have built up around high school women’s basketball, particularly at schools such as West Valley, Central Valley and Lake City, where winning teams have attracted new fans.

Similar traditions will grow on college campuses. On this point, the average mom with a minivan is likely to quote a certain Kevin Costner film: “If you build it, they will come.”

, DataTimes The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Jamie Tobias Neely For the editorial board


Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email