Fifty years ago, Title IX was signed into law, legislation that prohibits sex discrimination in any educational program or activity receiving any type of federal financial aid. The idea being that girls should have all the same opportunities as boys. While Title IX is not exclusively about sports, equality in that realm is what most people think about when considering the law.
You may be wondering why Title IX was so important. Up until the law was established, only 300,000 girls participated in high school sports. According to the National Federation of State High School Associations that number jumped to about 3.5 million during the 2018-19 school year, 43% of all high school athletes.
And the reason that leap is so exciting? Young people who participate in sports learn valuable skills that shine in the business world. Ninety-four percent of women in C suite positions—that means executives—played sports, 52% participated in college athletics, so there’s a serious correlation between athletic and business success. And it’s easy to see why. Athletes learn teamwork, punctuality, leadership skills, and the ability to get back up when they’ve been knocked down. Who wouldn’t want to hire them? Until Title IX, only male athletes reaped this benefit.
But before you rejoice over the wonderful success of Title IX, it’s important to take a closer look, especially at the college level, where the law is being manipulated in a rather appalling way. If a school has an equal number of male and female students and there are 600 male athletes, by law there should also be 600 female athletes. But, according to a 2018-19 analysis by USA TODAY, some of the nation’s biggest and most well-known schools—107 institutions in the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision, to be exact—are rigging the count.
For example, twenty-seven schools dumped extra athletes onto women’s teams, players who sometimes had never participated in the sport before and who never competed at the varsity level, all so they wouldn’t have to field women’s teams in other sports. At the same time, ten schools decided not to count 170 male athletes by saying they didn’t “sponsor” men’s indoor track, only because the men didn’t compete in conference or NCAA championships. Hence, they were not required to provide an additional 170 slots to women. Even worse, one-quarter of all women’s basketball players reported to the federal government were…wait for it…men. Yep, it seems it’s quite legal to call some guys in to scrimmage with a women’s team and then declare that those men are actually women. Fifty-two schools reported 601 male practice players as women, so they could comply with Title IX guidelines.
Not surprisingly, when the schools were contacted by USA TODAY reporters and asked about the proper counting of male and female athletes the response was terse. “We follow the guidelines as issued.” Which is true, but completely unfair and not in the spirit of Title IX.
So, 50 years later, have things improved for women in amateur sports? Yes, they have! But have we reached the goal of full Title IX compliance? Nope. The numbers are being fudged and our schools can and should do better.
The past and present collide when a tenacious reporter seeks information on an eleventh century magician…and uncovers more than she bargained for.
February 2, 2022
In 1939, archeologists uncovered a tomb at the Northern Arizona site called Ridge Ruin. The man, bedecked in fine turquoise jewelry and intricate bead work, was surrounded by wooden swords with handles carved into animal hooves and human hands. The Hopi workers stepped back from the grave, knowing what the Moochiwimi sticks meant. This man, buried nine hundred years earlier, was a magician.
Former television journalist Kate Butler hangs on to her investigative reporting career by writing freelance magazine articles. Her research on The Magician shows he bore some European facial characteristics and physical qualities that made him different from the people who buried him. Her quest to discover The Magician’s origin carries her back to a time when the high desert world was shattered by the birth of a volcano and into the present-day dangers of archeological looting where black market sales of antiquities can lead to murder.
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