Ithink Title IX is the best thing to happen to sports in the past 30 years. Better than Michael Jordan. Better than Mia Hamm. Even better than ESPN's "SportsCenter."
So what's Title IX? It's the law that says that if a school gets money from the federal government then it has to give an equal chance to women to participate in the school's educational programs and activities. That means sports, too.
Title IX (nine) has changed the world of sports in America. Before passage of the law, boys played the games and girls mostly cheered from the sidelines. Since Title IX, five times as many women play college sports as played in 1972. And an incredible 10 times as many play high school sports. Now, girls play sports almost as much as boys. And that's great.
But some people want to change Title IX. Why? They say that there are problems with the law. You see, Title IX says that the percentage of college athletic scholarships given to men or women should be roughly equal to the percentages of men and women at the school. These days, more girls go to college than boys, so more and more athletic scholarships are going to girls.
So what's the problem? That sounds fair. The big problem is football. Big-time college football gobbles up lots of scholarships. At some schools, as many as 85. No women's sport uses that many scholarships. Some schools decide to take away scholarships from "minor" men's sports such as wrestling, gymnastics, swimming and even baseball. That makes the number of men's and women's scholarships more even. But it makes the men on the teams who lose scholarships really mad.
The solution for the football problem, it seems to me, is simple. Schools should give out fewer football scholarships. If pro football teams can play a longer season with about 50 players, I don't see why college football teams need more than 50 to 60 players on scholarship.
There is one more problem. It's a problem that people who support Title IX don't like to talk about.
Women's sports don't attract big crowds. Sorry, it's true. Sure, there are some exceptions, like women's figure skating or pro tennis or the University of Connecticut women's basketball team. But, for whatever the reason, the crowds at most men's games are a whole lot bigger than the crowds at the women's games. So long as men's sports sell more tickets and make more money, there will be people who will argue that the men deserve more scholarships or better fields and equipment than the women.
What's the solution to this problem? Again, it's simple. Support women's sports. If all the people who are saying that Title IX is so great actually watched women's sports, maybe people wouldn't be talking about changing it.
So check out the Washington Mystics basketball games or the Freedom's soccer matches. Get your mom or dad to take you to a local college women's basketball or soccer game.
Better yet, "adopt" a high school girls hoops or volleyball team. Maybe one of your neighbors or your babysitter is playing on a team for the school down the street. Go to all the games and root for her and her team. The games are fun, and the competition is fierce.
Title IX has been great in getting girls and women out on the fields to play. To keep it, maybe it's time all of us got into the stands to cheer.