By giving young women many more opportunities to compete in athletics Title IX made possible the awe-inspiring female athletes we see today. I am singularly grateful for that.
Never far from it, Title IX was again in the news this week when the Obama administration, of course not without fanfare, announced that it was revising (or re-revising) the rules of compliance for colleges.
I am not an expert on Title IX arcana, and have no desire to be, but ever the chronicler of politicians’ capers, I can say without risking much that the move was made with political calculations in mind. The reform actually goes against the advice of the bipartisan United States Commission on Civil Rights, and is probably a political stunt more than anything else. Obama and his minions know that he needs his base intact when angry white men turn out en masse this November, if he is to keep Congress anyway.
Is the reform, then, itself wrong-headed? I don’t think so, but I don’t know enough about it to be counted on to say. But it is odd, I think, that the change goes against the recommendations of the USCCR. And at the Sports Economist I found another option, seemingly ignored altogether, which again made me think. Then there was the infernal logic of the Cato Institute.
I really couldn’t care less about men’s sports, collegiate or otherwise, and I’m always skeptical of claims suggesting that opportunities are being “stolen” from men and handed to women. Nonetheless, I do care about fairness, individual rights, rule of law—the things that make our society at least marginally better than a banana republic.
Title IX has clearly done much good. But that doesn’t mean it’s only benign. The handiwork of politicians rarely is (and the Law of Unintended Consequences usually has its say if nothing else). Hence Title IX supporters, and here I count myself, should always be mindful of its potential flaws.
Finally, I’ll caution once more against thinking that female athletes can gain equal status simply by fiat. That must be earned in gyms and on playing fields.