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Skewing Diversity

April 26, 2011

Does high-minded legality create purposeful dishonesty? Of course, and example #1058938467 is right here.

Many Division I schools are distorting the number of students participating in sports so they can comply with Title IX, The New York Times reported Tuesday. Among the tactics is to pad rosters of women’s teams with unqualified players or even men.

The newspaper found schools counted athletes who no longer wanted to compete or never played for that team, listing male practice players as women and trimming the rosters of men’s teams.

If you’ve never heard of Title IX, it’s a law that was designed to eliminate discrimination and open up opporutnities for women’s sports in the universitites.  I haven’t looked at the law in a while, but I believe it states that the school has to have a proportionate amount of female athletes in comparison to school population.  The general problem?  Most women’s teams are farily small in terms of actual players.  When you compare that to men’s college football, the numbers really get skewed.  So the sports programs that actually suffer are the lower-tier men’s programs like wrestling, gymnastics, and the like.

I’m not defending university sports programs, mind you.  Even the most low-cost football program usually loses money, and the high-end schools consistently run a deficit when it comes to football.  But sports is supposed to be a way to draw more attention to the school, so it’s essentially an advertising budget.

And there’s the problem.  It’s pretty easy to find a way to get a school advertised using a football program.  There are enough sports channels that eventually any D-1 school will get on TV.  As far as advertising goes, that’s gold.  Women’s jai-lai?  Not so much.  So if this is focused on providing value to the university, then Title IX has been a miserable failure.  If it’s designed to ensure that women get a chance to play sports, then it’s a solid play.  I guess.

So while the intent of the law was focused on providing opportunity to women, in the end it just costs the universities money to comply.  And it also makes them intentional law-breakers when the opportunity is provided.  I wonder what will happen when more sports programs overall are cut just because the schools can’t afford to have them anymore?  Then where will the sports opportunists go?

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