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Yadda Yadda Yadda Title Ix

Mon., June 23, 1997

Title IX was signed into law 25 years ago. Title IX never mentions sports, which is strange considering it is probably the most amazing thing to happen to sports over those years with the possible exception of the night they burned disco records at old Comiskey Park.

Here are all the questions and answers about Title IX.

Q: What is Title IX?

A: You probably haven’t curled up by a warm fire and read Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 lately, so here’s the gist. No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from blah blah blah, yadda yadda yadda, hereto and therefore, and also no one shall pass Go or collect $200, (a) pursuant to section 501 of Title XXVI of the Hawley-Smoot Tariff or (b) in case of emergency, break glass.

Q: What the heck does that mean?

A: It is law that high schools and colleges must give girls and boys the same opportunities. That includes sports.

Q: Well, that seems pretty fair, no?

A: Put it this way. Before Title IX, women athletes were treated somewhat worse than American prisoners in World War II movies. One out of 27 girls played high school sports. It was pretty lousy.

Today, more than 2 million girls play high school sports, eight times more than the year before Title IX. There are two women’s professional basketball leagues and a few dozen American women wearing Olympic gold medals around their necks. America has the best women’s soccer team in the world. A woman pitches in baseball’s minor leagues.

Q: So everything’s great, right?

A: Not exactly. Truth is, high schools and colleges are not really complying with Title IX. Especially colleges. One study reports that just eight colleges across America are giving women an even shot at playing sports. Nationwide, more than 60 percent of college athletes are men. According to the Women’s Sports Foundation, men get $142,622,803 more in scholarships. The big problem is football, which gobbles up more money than Bill Gates.

Q: Sure, Mr. Equality, but doesn’t football fund all the other sports?

A: No, actually it doesn’t, you jerk. More than two-thirds of colleges lose money on football.

Q: Who are you calling a jerk?

A: You. That is the problem. Everybody wants to make excuses. According to the law, colleges are supposed to give the same opportunities to women and men athletes. It’s a good law. It’s a fair law. If money’s tight, football programs just need to take the hit. People will still go to football games even if a few scholarships are cut and the weight rooms are narrowed a bit.

Q: Who asked you?

A: Nobody.

Q: Yeah, well, maybe more men than women want to play sports. Many more men try out for sports, you know? And men’s programs, like baseball and wrestling, are being slashed everywhere. Is that fair, Captain Quota?

A: Hate to say this, but that’s too bad. Schools get federal money to help students. And women need sports as much as men. You know all the stuff about how sports reduces the risk of breast cancer and osteoporosis, girls who play sports are more likely to graduate and have fewer unwanted pregnancies, and all that. If it means that a few men’s teams have to get beat up a bit, so be it. Let them take out their anger on all the football coaches who are sucking the budgets dry.

Oh yeah, all that stuff about men liking to play sports more than women? Baloney. Women simply have not had the chance. Few colleges have gymnastics teams. Few colleges have women’s soccer teams. There are 2.3 million girls playing sports in high school. Colleges have to give them the same chances. Richard Nixon signed Title IX into law six days after a break-in at the Watergate hotel in 1972. Title IX is Nixon’s legacy, you know, along with G. Gordon Liddy.

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