Federal appeals upheld, for the second time, James Madison University’s decision five years ago to cut 10 athletic teams to bring about gender equality to its sports programs. The case derives from the university’s announcement in 2006 that it would cut three women’s and seven men’s teams. The cuts were needed to comply with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the federal gender-equity law that prohibits gender discrimination at colleges that receive federal funding.
I find myself torn on this subject. As a firm believer in equality in every form and shape and in all walks of life, I have also dedicated 13 years of my life to playing competitive soccer. So, for the sake of being able to play my favorite sport and living in Texas, where football is king, I believe Title IX is a necessary semi-evil.
The official law reads, “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.”
According to a March 8 article from The Chronicle of Higher Education, institutions must prove that they are in line with the federal law in what is known as the “substantial proportionality” test.
According to the article, “To satisfy that test, colleges must show that their percentage of male and female athletes mirrors the overall enrollment. Some institutions whose proportions are off balance have responded by adding women’s programs to boost the number of female athletes. Others have opted to eliminate men’s teams instead.”
Within my own life experiences, this makes sense. I know a multitude of men at TCU who would absolutely love to play for a varsity soccer team and compete against cross-town rival SMU. And it is true that TCU has more women’s sports — including equestrian, rifle and volleyball — than men’s teams, but do people realize how much of the athletics budget goes to football? Don’t get me wrong; I’m not complaining — I love going to a school with an amazing, winning, inspiring football team. But how many more men’s athletic teams could be possible if that budget was evened out? Seeing a giant cluster of guys on the bench or the sideline who may never play is disheartening but also the nature of the beast.
Equality is a fine ideal to consider, but reality sometimes causes one to reconsider — especially when concerning a love, a sport, close to one’s heart. Having an equal number of athletics teams is fair and right, but tell that to the kids who are stuck playing intramurals.
Andrea Bolt is a senior news-editorial journalism major from The Woodlands.