The Declarer (Floyd McWilliams' Blog)

Saturday, February 12, 2011


The Greek antihero Procrustes would waylay travelers and force them to fit his bed, by stretching or amputation as appropriate. Modern America has its own Procrustes, in Latin notation rather than Greek: Title IX. This is an anti-gender-bias law that has been applied to college sports. Each school, public or private, must have the same number of men participating in sports as women. This has led to universities cutting men's programs. The latest casualty is the University of California (Berkeley)'s baseball team.

Save Cal Sports raised 12.5 million to help save five programs including baseball. But Cal cannot consider only solutions to funding problems; it must consider Procrustes and his bed:

The elimination of two women’s teams — lacrosse and gymnastics — threw the Cal athletic department out of compliance with the federal gender-equity law known as Title IX. Without the five teams, the university, based on numbers it provided, will have to add 50 spots for women and eliminate 80 spots for men to meet Title IX requirements.


So men's sports, no matter how popular, are the first on the chopping block.

The relevant court case is Cohen v Brown. In 1992 Brown University intended to cut two women's teams and two men's teams. A student named Amy Cohen sued, saying that women were underrepresented in Brown academics. Brown presented evidence that more male students than females were interested in sports, but no matter -- left-wing legislation does not care about interests or opportunity, only outcomes.

(Arguments against Title IX note that male participation is higher in comparable sports -- for instance at Brown at the time of the lawsuit, there were 100 open positions on women's team rosters. But set aside statistics for a moment and consider the absurdity of the US government compelling Brown to improve gender equity. Brown is one of the most liberal campuses in America. So is Cal. Coercing Brown or Cal to provide opportunities for women is like forcing NRA members to buy more guns or hippies to wear more tie-dyed clothing. It's a waste of my tax money regardless of the merits of the policy imposed.)

Title IX is absurd. It benefits no one except a few lawyers and feminist fundraisers. There is not a deep self-interest as there is for public employee salaries or stimulus money. And yet Title IX is untouchable. Who will oppose it? Even Sarah Palin is a big fan:

“Now I was a product of Title IX, where legislation allowed that equal opportunity,’’ she said. “Now if we have to still keep going down that road to create more legislation to get with it in the 21st century to make sure that women do have equality, especially in the workplace, then we’re there.”

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