When Girls Play, Boys Pay

by NeW Staff on February 16, 2010 · 4 comments

Last fall, we talked a lot about the decline in women's happiness after a study conducted in part by Wharton Professor Betsey Stevenson.  Now, she has a new study about the impact of sports on the lives of young women; her results are potentially groundbreaking.

The New York Times reported this story today.  Here's what Stevenson found: 

"Using a complex analysis, Dr. Stevenson showed that increasing girls’ sports participation had a direct effect on women’s education and employment. She found that the changes set in motion by Title IX explained about 20 percent of the increase in women’s education and about 40 percent of the rise in employment for 25-to-34-year-old women."

Many are claiming this proves that Title IX works.  And yes, this certainly does show a positive correlation between sports and overall health and well-being. But I think Stevenson's remarks are the most telling on Title IX:

" 'It’s not just that the people who are going to do well in life play sports, but that sports help people do better in life,' she said, adding, 'While I only show this for girls, it’s reasonable to believe it’s true for boys as well.' "

I don't think anyone, even Title IX opponents, could reasonably argue that we should be discouraging girls from playing sports.  Many of us, either through personal experience or by watching others, have seen the positive impact that athletic participation has had for girls.  This study only further supports the notion that activity, team work, and discipline are good for young women.  

However, in effect, Title IX is actively discouraging athletic participation--for boys.  As a result of quotas and ratios enforced by the Policy Interpretation of 1979, young men are actively excluded from participation in collegiate sports.  We are denying men the very same rights denied to women only a few decades ago. 

Is this what is good for all young people?  Taking away opportunities from some to "equalize" the playing field?  Stevenson's study shows that we should encourage young women to participate in sports, but we must also recognize that male participation in sports should not have to be limited in the name of equality.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Joanne February 22, 2011 at 10:41 pm

Because of Title IX, my daughter’s generation was among the first to be able to play sports like soccer as a young girl, and to win an athletic scholarship for college. There would be no such “pipeline” opportunities for girls and women without Title IX. Some male collegiate sports are indeed being eliminated by the need to balance funding for both men and women, and I think it is necessary. Besides, there is nothing to prevent both men and women’s sports from being privately funded if there is enough interest and motivation, in addition to the education-sponsored athletic system. Men are not helpless and they still make more money than women; so if they want sports, why not sponsor private leagues? Let the games begin!


Bob March 23, 2011 at 7:38 am

“Some male collegiate sports are indeed being eliminated by the need to balance funding for both men and women, and I think it is necessary.”

You wouldn’t say that if you had a son. If you do have a son, I feel very sorry for him having you as a mother.


Kevin March 25, 2011 at 1:36 am

Title IX is a scam.


B. S. Kalafut April 16, 2012 at 4:22 pm

When I was in college there was higher participation in–and the real scholar athletes could be found in–intercollegiate club sports (rowing, judo, rugby, etc.), not the official NCAA teams. Title IX turned the latter into a zero-sum battle of the sexes, but could it be that they are a sideshow? Are sports, per se, empowering, or is there something special about being on a school’s NCAA team.


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