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Women Win With Title IX

June 22, 2002

Re "The War on Football," Opinion, June 16: Jessica Gavora's article claiming that Title IX has unfairly resulted in cuts in male sports teams is legally inaccurate and based on gender stereotypes. First, Title IX does not require schools to reduce male teams. Rather, one of three ways a school can demonstrate Title IX compliance is to show that the percentage of female athletes is proportionate to the percentage of female students generally. Women are entitled to a fair share of the sports budget "pie," not just what is left over once male teams take their cut.

In large part, Gavora's argument is based on the unsupportable claim that football should be distinguished because it is revenue-generating. However, 58% of Division I-A and I-AA football programs do not make enough revenue to cover their own costs, let alone enough to subsidize other sports. Second, Gavora alleges incorrectly that women are less willing to play college sports and ignores the fact that women's athletic interests and abilities do not develop in a vacuum.

Title IX has made strides toward creating an environment in which girls and women have been allowed not simply to step up to the plate but to win the game.

Nancy M. Solomon

Senior Staff Attorney

California Women's Law Center

Los Angeles

*

The Department of Education is responsible for ensuring an equitable education for our young people. As Gavora states, Title IX, which calls for funding equity, including sports, has raised the level of participation of women in 30 years from interlopers to just under 40% of high school and college athletes.

Football, the behemoth of sports, not only costs more per player but uses more players, thus all component costs are disproportionately much higher. Bigger is not better, especially in education. College football has become the farm club for the NFL. We need to recognize it has no place in higher learning, especially if its reason for existence is to produce income. Let's reclassify it into the fund-raising arm of colleges and universities. If it makes money, it lives. Loses money, it dies. The accountants can make the decisions.

It doesn't take a degree to see that the game of football crowds out productive growth, even if it is great to watch. I love the Super Bowl.

Judith Meuli

Valley Village

*

Gavora outlined all the problems caused by Title IX with respect to the fairness of resources allocated to women's and men's sports, with the conclusion that football was somehow being shortchanged. I'd like to point out another aspect to the football problem, and that is how football often commands much greater resources than many other equally deserving school activities at the high school level.

When our son was in high school, he was a dedicated member of the high school band and immensely enjoyed competitions with other high school bands; however, his enthusiasm was not shared by the principal or other members of the school's administration. While this high school never had a winning football team, it had a strong band program that won many competitions and awards. The football team was so bad that the only spectators at most games were the parents of the team members and "band boosters" like my wife and me, who came out to carry the kids' equipment and serve them water after their halftime performances. The football team got all the usual perks, including several coaches and free uniforms. The band got a band director and transportation to events. Other expenses, such as new uniforms (infrequently purchased), marching coaches, choreographers and equipment replacements, had to be paid for through fund-raising.

During the years our son was in band we purchased several instruments that were donated to the band and bought all new cases for the band's drums. It was only through donations like ours and considerable fund-raising efforts that the band was able to survive. The attitude of our school administrators indicated a clear bias in favor of football.

I would like to see a more balanced approach, particularly in high school. At that level, there should not be a main sport that hogs all the resources and publicity. Also, special efforts should be made to ensure that not just football players receive recognition as being important students.

The kid who has mastered an instrument in band or displays great talent in some other area should receive as much recognition from the school's administration as the quarterback.

Lou Einung

Santa Maria

*

Will someone tell Gavora, the expert on football and things related to Title IX, that Division I college football is played mainly on Saturday afternoons, not Sundays, which is when the NFL professionals normally play.

Robert Joyce

Banning

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