Before entering ministry, I was a writer. I worked as a sports writer for several newspapers in West Virginia and worked for a higher education public policy group in North Carolina. I enjoyed my time as a writer and it has helped me to be a better pastor today.
One of the topics I often wrote about, and sometimes negatively, was Title IX. This is part of the 1972 Education Amendments, which paved the way for equal opportunity in colleges and, as well, athletics. In several articles, I wrote that the original intent of the legislation was commendable, because it allowed for women to be involved in athletics and did away with discriminatory practices. However, I would follow that argument with a call to reform Title IX’s provisions based on the fact that Title IX had led to several athletics opportunities for males to be eliminated. I’d argue that Title IX’s reform would not eliminate opportunities for women in sports, but would make things truly equal.
Looking back on what I wrote, which is a joy of modern communication, I wish I would have hit the delete key and tossed out my idea. I was wrong about Title IX.
While Title IX might need reform, it is possible to conclude that I was advocating an end to the federal regulation. This would have a disastrous affect on society and athletics. Without a provision for equal opportunity, there would be no incentive for college and high school administrators to provide athletic opportunities for women, especially in sports that lose money.
Title IX restricts athletic departments from only providing sports that are profitable and play well on television, such as football and men’s basketball. If Title IX was not law today in our media and consumer driven culture, the only women’s sport we would see would be college basketball, and even that would be doubtful.
What Title IX does is it keeps administrators accountable for their decisions. It provides opportunities that still might not have been available to women. In an ideal world, we would not need Title IX. Everyone who wants to participate in athletics would have an equal chance. Sadly, that world does not exist and protections are sometimes needed so that fairness and equal opportunities are provided.
Title IX is not perfect, but what piece of government legislation is perfect? Simply because Title IX is not perfect does not mean it should be eliminated. It should be reformed, but not cast aside.
In my writing career, I covered women’s athletics more often than not. I saw a lot of talented women play the sports they loved. Yes, their fathers and mothers gave them the passion to play and their coaches helped to develop their skills, but without Title IX the doors to the gym would never have been opened, and that would have been a shame.