Gender Equality in Sports
How is it fair that a mens college basketball team is able to be transported on planes and dine on steak, while a womens team from the same college, travels in a van and eats fast food? Its not, but this occurs often nowadays even with laws passed preventing this type of discrimination. In 1972, Congress passed Title IX, which prohibits discrimination against girls and women in federally funded education, including athletic programs (Kiernan 3). Many schools and colleges have not been able to comply with the Title IX standards mostly because of money. Some of the problems in high schools and colleges consist of insufficient scholarships for girls, not enough coaching jobs, a lack of equipment, and a limited amount of supplies. Not only does this inequality in athletic programs exist in both schools and colleges, but it is also prominent in many professional sports. After more than 25 years since the beginning of Title IX, there still is no gender equality among men and women in high school, college, and professional sports.
Passed in 1972 by United States President Richard Nixon, Title IX was supposed to give women equality in sports, yet in the year 2001 there is still little difference in the way women are treated in sports. No legislative act has had a more powerful impact on the world of sports other than Title IX. Before Title IX was passed, only 31,000 women participated in sports, but in 1997, 120,000 women were active in sports around the country (Wulf 1). Title IX is now synonymous with women trying to find equity in athletics, but it originally had nothing to do with sports. It was a part of a larger legislative act passed to avoid any type of discrimination in the school system (Kiernan 1). Since 1972, the original purpose of Title IX has been clouded by media battles and a whirlwind of misinformation. Until the law required compliance, many schools did not take Title IX to be a serious legislative act.
Compliance was not required until 1978, thats six years after the law was first instilled into the American culture. The department that leads the battle for compliance was called the Department of Educations Office of Civil Rights, or often called OCR for short (Wine 1). All institutions receiving federal funding must comply with at least one of three specific criteria. One of them that they could choose is identified as proportional representation. Another is that the school shows a continual progress towards gender equality. The third one that a school could prefer to follow is accommodation of interests (Almond 5). Even though institutions are required by law to meet one of those terms, a school rarely complies sufficiently with Title IX. In fact, at a few schools certain opportunities have diminished for women. Since Title IX was passed, womens teams, at some schools, have shrunk due to death of field hockey in 1991 (Pinney 2). Although it is not required for schools to comply, funding for womens teams have not been equal either.
Money is usually a problem with many things in life, one of them also happens to be gender equality. Colleges and universities spend an average of $1.6 million on the mens athletics program. Yet, the womens athletic teams receive nearly half that amount (Almond 2). Women should not be receiving half the amount that a mens team gets just because their sports are less popular than mens. A schools main objective may be to promote the mens team first, to get out of a deficit. Then they may be able to finance the womens team with the money they make from the mens sporting events. That is not an equal or fair solution. It would take years to pay off a deficit and then sufficiently finance the female athletic programs. Numerical equality would take a vast quantity of public tax money in addition to the financial assistance that now pays for most of womens sports. Universities increased its support of womens athletics over the years but according to Ellen Voelz, a womens head coach at the University of Minnesota, thats not enough. The excessive spending in the mens athletics must be addressed (Pinney 5).
If the excessive spending for the mens teams is not being addressed, the least a school could do is offer the women more programs. The opportunities for women in colleges have increased somewhat over the past 25 or 30 years. In 1977, women were offered an average of 5.6 sports teams per college. In the year 1996 women had an opportunity to participate in an average of 7.5 teams (Wulf 1). Women now are able to look for a professional career in some of those sports. Although, two sports is not much to look forward to when there are at least a hundred female sports. Basketball and soccer are the only two womens widely known professional sports. The WNBA and the Womens World Cup winning Soccer Team are the only two current professional sports. Women who seem to earn less respect than the players, are the coaches of the female teams.
A coach for an average college womens team earns, on average, about $32, 736 per season. Once again, the mens teams get twice as much as the womens team does. A coach of a mens team earns about $66, 953 (Almond 2). How is that fair? Any coach, who takes time out of his or her life to assist and teach a young group of kids, deserves respect. It doesnt matter if their team makes more money than another. A college or high school should have teams and coaches that are compensated equally. Due to the poor pay that comes with the coaching of a womens team, coaching for girls is down. In just two years, the number of coaches went from 49.4% to 47.7% (Wulf 2). Within the next 25 years, at this rate, coaches of womens teams will be nearly gone. Even if the opportunity is there, no one will want to take it. Another thing a true coach does not like to see is their team being treated disproportionate to others. When it comes to scholarship money and scholarship opportunity, women are not given a fair chance to live their dreams.
Young girls dream of, one day, being able to play the sport they adore for the rest of their life. For many adolescent girls this dream many not seem at all possible, perhaps because of their own financial status at home. Scholarships are supposed to provide financial assistance to those who need and deserve to have a superb education. Scholarships could also be used to reward students for their outstanding achievement in the field of sports. Women received $142,622,803 less scholarship support than their male counterparts during the 1995-1996 scholastic year (Wine 2). Women are merely 30% of scholarship money; that leaves 70% of the scholarship money for the men to spend. The 70% of leftover scholarship money certainly does not go to the womens equipment and supplies.
Determining the compliance for the provision of equipment and supplies involves evaluating six separate things. Quality, suitability, quantity, availability, maintenance, and replacement must all be taken into accord when following a compliance policy (Compliance II-7). Full compliance, in this area, should be considered complete when around the same percentages of male and female athletes are provided the same equipment of the same quality and quantity. Most colleges seem to comply with this section of compliance, but high schools do not sufficiently meet these standards. A high school softball team receives the boys old equipment that has been in circulation since the 1980s. The equipment is falling apart, held together by various objects, such as string and shoelaces. How is that considered being in compliance with the federal regulations? It is impossible for the females to compete and play at their full potential with the mens older jerseys and equipment. For the new professional sports, such as the WNBA, they are encountering the same discriminations and problems.
Heading into its fifth season the WNBA has rising stars and loyal fans but low ratings, poor attendance and no salary equity has led to an expected downfall. No other womens league with teams nationwide has ever made it to its fifth year (Anderson 68). Although most of the fans are female, they are more dedicated and loyal to the teams; even in wins and losses. The dedication of a small group of people does not make TV ratings and help pull in sponsors. With a ticket costing only $15.50 to attend a WNBA game, compared to $51.50 for the NBA, there is barely a chance of promotional success for sponsors (Anderson 68). Although the WNBA players arent looking for big cash like the NBA, they are still looking for a little respect. The WNBA is a single entity league; a league that pays and controls salaries, no free agencies, and absolutely no negotiations (Anderson 70). The entire WNBA league has a $12 million payroll, which is not the problem; the problem lies in how it is distributed (Anderson 70). There is no doubt that they are playing for love of the game. They enjoy the fact that they are doing what they love all year round, and then being paid for it. All they are seeking is a little respect from people who dont think they can make it. In years to come, they will prove just how amazing they are.
Once advertising companies find out how amazing these athletes really are, all they are after is turning them into a sex object. It is not often that you see men being flaunted off by certain ad companies such as Nike and Reebok. Men are generally praised for talent not for their body and beauty. The 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia was an advertising frenzy for many companies. The world knows Marion Jones strive for five gold medals, yet some only remember her for her revealing Nike ads. She may be a beautiful woman, but she also has an incredible talent. During the 1998 Womens World Cup Championship, Brandi Chastain scored a game-winning goal. After she scored, she threw off her shirt in excitement. The picture of Chastain on her knees, screaming and with no shirt on remains in everyones mind. People dont remember her for her performance that hot summer day, they remember her removing her shirt. Why wouldnt a company show an ad that flaunts her talent instead of her body? Its just not the way the world sees women in sports. Men are not viewed like that; it is another one of the many problems in sports today. Many pessimists view the world of sports as a mans domain, not to be intruded by women. What about the young girls who have nothing else to find hope in? Women are in sports and they are going to remain there until they have reached equality and beyond.
Still, no gender equality exists among men and women in sports even after 25 years since Title IX was put into the American culture. Women in athletics are not treated at all equal to the male athletes. They are not paid the same, given the same equipment, and everything in between. The womens teams receive half the amount of funding that mens teams do. Coaches of the female teams are also paid half as much. Title IX was put into place to prevent discrimination, but schools are rarely complying with all the suitable standards. Women are also viewed very differently in sports. They are only advertised as sexual objects, not at all for their talent. Many women are fighting back and getting the respect and representation that they deserve. They have been fighting in court, using Title IX as their defense, and many judges are granting women what they want. Those disappointed in the Supreme Courts unspoken approval of Title IX wont like this further prediction from a female head lacrosse coach, You aint seen nothin yet!(Pinney 1).
Almond, Elliot. Title IX 25 Years Later, Women Athletes still a Step Behind. The Seattle Times. (22 June 1997): 5 pp. On-Line. Internet. 3 May 2001. Available: http://www.umi.com/proquest
Anderson, Kelli. High. Sports Illustrated for Women. May/June 2001: 66-70
Compliance Board at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Achieving Gender Equality. No Eds. 5 Vols. Massachusetts, 1996-1997.
Kiernan, Denise. The Little Law that Could. Feb/Mar 2001: 6 pag. On-Line. Internet. 5 May 2001. Available: Http://www.umi.com/proquest
Pinney, Gregor W. Equality for Female Athletes Lags. Star Tribune. (8 Apr 1992): 6pp. On-Line. Internet. 3 May 2001. Available: Http://www.umi.com/proquest
Wine, Elizabeth. Title IX effort no 10. Birmingham Post-Herald. (19 June 1997) 3pp. On-line. Internet. 3 May 2001. Available: Http://www.umi.com/proquest
Wulf, Steve. A Level Playing Field for Women. Time. (1997): 3pp. On-Line. Internet. 3 May 2001. Available: http://www.provlib.org/elibrary/frames.htm