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Archive for June 23, 2022

June 23, 2022 — 37 words, 50 years, so much to accomplish

Today’s the 50th Anniversary of the signing of Title IX of the 1972 Civil Rights Act into law. The legislation guaranteed equal opportunity in educational institutions between men and women.

The law has been lauded for everything from the rise of the WNBA to the increase in the number of women in graduate schools, to the expansion of sports like lacrosse nationwide.

We’ve been looking at various aspects of the women’s sports revolution since 1998. Women now play soccer at world-beating levels, even as the world of men’s soccer is just starting to add money and coaching to teams run by clubs like Barcelona, Olympique Lyonnais, Manchester City, and Club America.

Women run in race cars, whether it’s in their own series such as the former WGGT series and now the W Series under the FIA banner. American women have dominated team sports at the world level, such as basketball, soccer, lacrosse, and softball.

Women play tackle football and have been part of an alphabet soup of leagues over the last 30 years. Women are just starting to get towards pro rugby and cricket in many parts of the world.

But for all of the celebrations of Title IX in the media today, there are a number of shortcomings that don’t get discussed as much.

First of all, the “equality” in Title IX is limited to those institutions receiving Federal funding. And even with the narrowing of discriminatory behavior, there has been enormous inequality in college sports even to this day. This was shown by the infamous Sedona Prince video in 2021 showing the obvious inequality of facilities offered to men’s and women’s basketball teams in the NCAA Tournaments.

Also, equality does not flow through to the media organizations that document the achievements of teams and individuals. Newspapers, blogs, and TV networks can shape the destiny of women’s sports leagues by simply not choosing to report scores on the ticker on the bottom of the screen while showing another game of cornhole or pickleball.

It took enormous pressure and shaming on social media to get ESPN to equalize coverage of men’s and women’s lacrosse, for example. The TV landscape of games went from a ratio of 5 or 6 to 1 between men’s and women’s games, with the title game never getting a nationwide telecast, to a more equal ratio with all games on the women’s side from the quarterfinal onward getting their own broadcast windows, and the women’s final on ESPN.

The equality has also not flowed through to predominantly Black colleges and universities. These days, athletes who attend HBCUs find substandard athletic departments and, frankly, a lot of sports which rely on non-Black participants such as bowling and softball. There are just three HBCUs with women’s lacrosse, and none in the Next Level League which has six men’s teams.

Minority participation in field hockey has lagged far behind every other sport in the NCAA canon. Indeed, the best place to find more minorities is in the scholastic level, where the sport has been expanded in southern California, northern Virginia, and Delaware.

But what limits Title IX is the fact that it does not make businesses treat men and women equally. This was nakedly shown in the current controversy surrounding the LIV Golf Tour, which is run by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia, only recently, allowed its female citizens to get drivers’ licenses.

And you notice the dozens of golfers joining the tour and its $100 million paydays? All male. No women.

There is a long way to go.