The Marriage-Job Paradox, by B.B. Robinson, Ph.D.

Cheerleading is not a sport.  That is what Federal Judge Stefan Underhill said last Wednesday.

In a 95-page opinion, Judge Underhill ruled that Quinnipiac University could not count competitive cheer towards the school’s Title IX compliance; rather, it had to reinstate its women’s volleyball program.  Quinnipiac unsuccessfully argued that cheerleading should be considered a sport for the purpose of Title IX fulfillment since, like other sports, it is a physically demanding activity with different regional and national competitions.

The ACLU, with support from the Obama Administration and feminist groups, argued against the school and the cheerleaders.Source: istockphoto

To understand how feminist groups wound up arguing against the advancement of a women’s cheer team, it is important to understand the perversion that is Title IX.

Title IX was enacted in 1972 with a benign purpose – ending sex discrimination in schools.  However, in 1979, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights issued a policy interpretation that went well beyond the law’s original intent.  The Office for Civil Rights, lacking any sense of irony, sought to end perceived discrimination with more discrimination.  Now, Title IX is little more than a weapon for discriminating against men’s sports.

There are three ways a school can comply with Title IX.  The most common is to ensure that the percentages of male and female athletes at each university are proportionate to the percentage of male and female students enrolled.

Whether the far-left zealots at the National Collegiate Athletic Association admit it or not, this is a quota system.

Like most quota systems, Title IX creates market distortions.  Title IX creates an artificial supply for women’s sports where there is lesser demand, and inversely limits the supply of men’s sports for which there is greater demand.

While participation in women’s sports has grown since the 1970s, male participation at the high school and voluntary levels far outpace female participation.  In spite of the higher number of men who aspire to collegiate athletics, there are far more scholarships available for women (32,656) than men (20,206) in “gender symmetric” sports, according to the College Sports Council.  (For full data and charts from the College Sports Council showing the long odds men face compared to women in scholarship distribution, click here.)

Writing in Forbes, Professor Richard A. Epstein explains how Title IX warps the playing field:

Football aside, the participation rates of men in all voluntary programs are higher than they are for women, by close to a 2 to 1 ratio. That’s the ratio for intramural sports, and for all other measures of participation outside college settings. Hence for colleges with the same number of men as women, we should expect close to twice as many men to participate in sports. To meet proportionate participation rates, men’s sports have to cut ruthlessly and women’s sports have to be heavily subsidized … The shifts are still more powerful because women constitute by around 60% the enrollment of American colleges.

To read Professor Epstein’s full article, go here.

Title IX also creates perverse incentives.  Instead of adding more women’s teams, schools often slash men’s programs to meet Title IX’s quota.  In recessionary times, schools have even more of an excuse to axe men’s programs.  But this is often a convenient pretext.  Even when boosters and alumni offer to pay the full cost of a men’s team, schools still cut programs for fear of Title IX lawsuits.

This does nothing to help women.  It only hurts men.

Since 1981, the Title IX regime has eradicated more than 2,200 men’s athletic teams.  Wrestling, gymnastics, rowing, track and field, tennis, and baseball have been hit the hardest.

Whether competitive cheer is a sport is not for a judge to decide.  Schools like Quinnipiac should not be forced to try and make cheerleading a competitive sport to satisfy Title IX’s affirmative action type quota.  Rather, it is time to take a serious look into the discriminatory effects of the law.

Like affirmative action, Title IX was formed with kind intentions.  However, both have become outdated models that are used to elevate a perceived minority.

Under affirmative action, whites and Asians are denied access to the college classroom in favor of less qualified blacks and Hispanics, while under Title IX, men are denied access to the college sports arena in favor of women – or worse yet – in favor of nothing.

With Title IX and affirmative action becoming as discriminatory as the practices they were created to remedy, it’s time for change to come to our college campuses.

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