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March 30, 2005



Gah! As a newly christened Cardinal fan, I say yesterday's loss should be counted as SAD, Hugo! :)


I just can't do it, Kristin. As a fourth-generation Cal alum, the ghosts of my grandfathers and great-grandfathers would haunt me if I so much as uttered a peep of support for those who play down on the Farm.


Hmm. Are all Cal students required to root against Stanford, or only 4th generation alums? In the event that Stanford (or Cal) plays certain other Big Ten (or Big 12) teams, do ancestral obligations take precedence over current ones?

I bet this is why sports are stereotyped as unintellectual - over the course of an academic career it's easy to acquire a hopelessly tangled and conflicting web of allegiances. Neutrality is the only tactful solution!


Good people everywhere (except Palo Alto) root for Stanford to lose. Along with Duke, they're the Yankees of college basketball. Which is why I couldn't be happier for Michigan State players and fans right now. Well, unless UW had beat Louisville.


Yami, all real Golden Bears root against Stanford. Should the forces of hell itself marshall themselves against the Cardinal, I'd put on my horns, pick up my pitchfork, and yell lustily for Satan.


Satan I could handle, but Illinois? Iowa State? I dunno...

La Lubu

Don't start about Illinois! ;-)

Col Steve

The whistleblower ruling is another example though of where the legislative branch has failed to correct a deficiency (one way or the other) in the law and let the judiciary decide. If both sides of the court are arguing what "Congress meant", congress should get the hint and amend the legislation to make its intent clear.

Of course, the more interesting battle on the horizon is how compliance is met -



Wow, Col. Steve, I feel like I need a law degree to get through that. But I do think that surveying student interest (given how students take surveys casually) is a poor way of deciding how resources ought to be allocated. I prefer a more fixed ratio.


I believe that Title IX has done some great things, but I am concerned about situations where entire sports teams are dropped, not because of money but because sufficient numbers of women cannot be found to participate in women's sports. When this happens, either some men's sports are discontinued, or the school faces the stiff non-compliance penalties. Thus far, women's advocates have resisted addressing this problem. Doesn't anyone see it as a problem, other than the men who lose out?


No question, we need to boost women's interest in sports even higher than it already is. I'm sorry for the hits the men's teams are taking -- but I'm not clear that reducing opportunities for women is the solution.


Would this emphasis on sport mean that women who are not interested in a particular sport will be pressured to join in just to make up the numbers?


It is a problem, stanton, but the real problem is that colleges are poor-mouthing. Giving enormous sums of money to your big football and basketball teams, and then blaming the girls for keeping money away from every other sport, is a good diversionary tactic.

I agree with Col. Steve. I don't like this ruling because, really, the Court shouldn't be the one stepping in and saying "Congress missed this important step."


I understand that money is often at the heart of the complaints, and I have no sypmathy for athletic departments who try to avoid spending money on women's sports. I disagree with you, Mythago, about "blaming the girls" being a good diversionary tactic. I see it as a very poor one, that doesn't work, nor should it.

Hugo, I agree that reducing the opportunities for girls is not the answer, and I didn't suggest that it was. What I was referring to is the elimination of MEN's teams in order to comply with Title IX when there simply are not enough interested women available to equalize the numbers, even though the funds are available. How does this help women?


I'm always mystified why college football teams need 85 scholarship players -- having worked with and around the UCLA football team at the same time that men's gymnastics was being cut there, I place the blame full-square on the huge excess of revenue spent on football. Let's equalize spending across the board. Pay all college coaches -- football, track, baseball, softball, field hockey, basketball, the same. Ask how NFL teams make it with 45 man rosters. Then we can talk more about Title IX reform.


College football teams could get by with fewer players, but that would change the game radically. The college game has built-in attrition which the pro teams don't face: graduation. Also, it is the exceptional athelete who is ready to play straight out of high school. Most require time to get their bodies prepared. If they don't have the luxury of doing this, one result will be increased injuries.

When I was in college, the big schools well over 100 players on scholarship - some closer to 200, I believe. It was cut back for competitive reasons to 105, then 95 and now 85, so that the few dynastic programs couldn't suck up all of the talent. That still happens to some extent, but nowhere near how it was before.

And if there TRULY is need for reform of Title IX, why would you want to block that reform until some of your favored agenda items are covered? And if there is no need to reform Title IX, you don't need to "back-burner" the issue. All you need to do is to explain how it helps women to eliminate men's teams, when money is not an issue.


I don't know, Stanton -- somehow, Division III programs manage to do just fine with football (I'm a big fan of the local Oxy Tigers), often with only 40 guys on the entire team, and lots of players going both ways. One thing I dislike about football is the specialization -- the idea that some kid is getting a scholarship to be a "long snapper" seems ludicruous to me.


Oh, and Stanton, I liked this summary from the National Women's Law Center, criticizing

...the misguided notion that the Title IX athletic policies require “quotas” for female athletes, and have led to cut backs in certain men’s teams.  The quota charge creates the impression that schools, especially in the area of athletics, must set aside a certain mandatory number of slots for women.  In fact, neither Title IX nor its policies set numerical requirements, and a school can comply with Title IX by showing that it is trying to expand opportunities for female athletes or that it is accommodating the interests of female students at the school, even if it provides fewer opportunities for them.

“Women and girls have come a long way since 1972, but participation opportunities and resources for women’s athletic programs continue to lag behind men’s at all levels of education,” said Greenberger.  “Wrestlers should move their bulls-eye away from female athletes and take on the real culprits, schools’ refusal to support both men’s and women’s teams, or to look for savings in bloated football and basketball budgets that could be cut without any harm to the male athletes themselves.”


Hugo: I'm sure you liked that summary. It says the things that you like to hear. It would, being a highly biased source, with an agenda of their own. You should learn, as I have, to question biased sources ESPECIALLY when they are on your side. If you don't you risk embarrassing yourself by taking on their specious arguments. This summary is simply thinly-veiled invective against the victims of Title IX who railed against their fate. NWLC wants them to shut up.

This isn't black and white, Hugo. There are many unintended consequences of the well-intended dicta of Title IX, many of which have been bad for women. Many excellent women's programs have been eliminated, for example, in order to fund cheaper sports that include more raw numbers of women with less training involved, and thus achieve compliance (this includes more than half of the women's gymnastics programs in the country).

And let me add that Title IX, as passed in 1972, is an excellent rule. The quota part was added in 1979, and has been disastrous. (Yes, NWLC and Hugo, there are quotas. They call it "proportionality".)


I see it as a very poor one, that doesn't work, nor should it.

It shouldn't. It does. Nobody really questions whether the Big 10 or the Pac 10 really need their football teams--you get handwaving about 'alumni money'--and there is never really any interest in analyzing whether they are in fact a net financial gain to their schools (my understanding is, they're not), and what impact they have on all sports.

Title IX is not perfect. The problem is that we know what happens when there is no Title IX. I suppose I could call up my mom and ask her what it was like for the girls' basketball time when she was in high school, but I like being able to hear out of that ear. ;)


Mythago, you are correct that Title IX is necessary. Perhaps some day it will not be. For now, it is. But that is not the choice I am proposing, nor is anyone else other than raving extremists. The intent is to keep it while addressing the imperfections, which you acknowledge exist.

Actually, many studies have been done about the net gain or loss to colleges from their football programs. The big programs earn a LOT of money, including most (all?) of the ones in the two conferences you mentioned. These football programs (and sometimes the men's basketball programs) finance a major portion of the other sports at their schools. I believe I read that that the excess funds overwhelmingly go toward women's sports, but I admit in advance that I have no ready source for this.

When you get outside of the major conferences and Notre Dame, then you get into money-losing programs.

Have you really seen this "diversionary tactic" work, where the men's football and basketball team receive huge amounts of money, and then the girls are blamed for keeping money away from other sports? I have not. Do you recall what schools have done this?


Hugo: Yes, Division III teams play with 40 or so non-scholarship players. This could be enforced across the board, eliminating about 8,000 men's college sports positions, and throwing most schools into non-compliance with Title IX, requiring them to eliminate some women's teams - at least temporarily until they could drum up some perfunctory men's sports to fill in the government-required proprtionality. As I said, this could not be done without radically altering the game. Side effects would be enormous. I don't think I like this solution, but if you think it is the way to go, we can agree to disagree.

(Do some colleges give scholarships to players for only long-snapping duties? Jeez!)

Col Steve

Hugo - Dangerous to jump into a thread late, but when I first read your quotes,

"But I do think that surveying student interest (given how students take surveys casually) is a poor way of deciding how resources ought to be allocated. I prefer a more fixed ratio."

"Let's equalize spending across the board. Pay all college coaches -- football, track, baseball, softball, field hockey, basketball, the same."

I was thinking surely he's not advocating Pat Summitt take a cut in her almost $1M annual compensation.

Upon reflection, I'm concerned your comments, even if partly in jest, reflect the difficulties and nuances about measures of performance versus measures of effectiveness. It's rather easy - and thus in our nature - to look at input/output measures of performance: proportionality of spending; pay of coaches; resources spent on facilities, etc. Sometimes these measures correlate with effectiveness, sometimes they don't.

Let's look at a snippet from the original legislation: (note: ED = US Dept of Ed)

A school must provide equal athletic opportunity for both sexes. In determining whether athletic opportunities are equal, ED will consider whether the selection of sports and levels of competition effectively accommodate the interests and abil- ities of members of both sexes. The Department will also consider (among other factors): facilities, equipment, supplies, game and practice schedules, travel and per diem allowances, coaching (including assignment and compensation of coaches), academic tutoring, housing, dining facilities and publicity.

Note the very worthy goal of equal athletic opportunity. Then, the law makes a decent attempt at what is equal opportunity as applied to this area: "effectively accommodate the interests and abil- ities of members of both sexes." The problem though is the missing intellectual foundation, or perhaps model, of what constitutes "interests and abilities."

Perhaps it's too much to ask of the legislation, but I suspect there was not serious work done to consider what are the casual factors of accommodating student interests and abilities by gender. Again, one can look at some of the law's metrics and make some reasoned logic for their use, but much harder to claim the exent they truly get at the law's intent. Thus, we tend to default to easier input/output measures and apply simplistic rules to these measures such as proportional or fixed ratios. Of course, then we act shocked when there are second and third order effects, often unintended from our well-meaning rules. Equal opportunity then means reduced opportunity. You see this occurring in attempts by states to equalize school funding and then wonder why "better" performing schools (really higher spending) cut programs (arts, music).

You put down surveys - precisely because they are hard to design and execute well. But we shouldn't confuse what is hard as an excuse for
what we ought to do. Think about how you might handle providing equal opportunity to accomodate the interests and abilities of your students. Would fixed amount of office hours per student be your default answer? Or fixed amount of questions a student could ask in class? How would you think about what is best and tailored for each student - or even by gender?

I'm afraid we make the same mistake in thinking about "success" in the areas I work in, which is why your comments seemed to spark this post.

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