A few weeks ago, I attended Eagle Forum’s Collegians Summit and was privileged to hear a number of Congressmen and women, as well as other individuals who are working in the political system. I listened as they share their experiences and their opinions on important public policy issues. One woman from the Independent Women’s Forum spoke on “The Unintended Consequences of Title IX.” The results are astounding: men’s athletic teams have been cut across the country, female athletic teams are added at universities with the number of open spots remaining vacant, and even the number of male college students has dropped. For the last two weeks, her presentation has consumed my thoughts. It led me to reflect on how our current quota system has affected collegiate athletics. The ways in which Title IX in practice has disrupted collegiate sports, specifically both male and female athletes, is undeniable. Reform of this system must occur, but how? And what I wonder is what would these changes do to female athletics?
As a former high school swimmer, I know how valuable female athletics are for women. There wasn’t a semester in my teen years that passed that I wasn’t either training or competing. The lessons I learned from my hours spent at the pool have helped me greatly in college: diligence, perseverance, endurance, and team camaraderie. I wouldn’t trade those memories or lessons for anything. I am sure most female collegiate athletes feel similarly. There is something so gratifying about competition and achieving goals that you experience as an athlete.
But in reality, if the current quota system were removed, what would the incentive be for colleges and universities to continue to support and sustain female athletic teams? I attend a large public university with a superb athletic program. Our athletic teams recruit the best and most talented athletes from across the nation, and the amount of attention my university pays to female programs is laudable. But despite these great teams and athletes, the truth remains: female sports simply will never draw the same large crowds as the football or men’s basketball games. As a strong believer in capitalism and the free market, I support the university’s right to sustain the programs that are the most profitable and successful. I fear if Title IX were completely revoked, the natural result would be a dramatic cut of female sports. Realistically, why would a university keep low-profit teams when they can concentrate on male teams that bring in millions of dollars?
What is the solution? Am I overly pessimistic or are these valid concerns? Certainly the current system is not what we should strive for in a democratic society, but would a total reform allow for equality of opportunity like we would hope? I definitely think this issue is one to wrestle over. But in the meantime, it’s encouraging to know that women at the Independent Women’s Forum are researching and working to preserve a democratic and freely flourishing society for both men and women.