Sharon Hushka (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Wed, 06 Jan 1999 11:22:13 -0800
I yet to meet anyone who believes there's any conspiracy, but perhaps reading
the facts could make the on-going multi-faceted layers of obstacles better
understood. "Exploding the Myths" is about making people aware of assumptions
versus the actual conditions. The following is excerpted from
Exploding the Myths
It is time to put to rest some of the myths surrounding gender equity in sports.
MYTH: Football and basketball create revenue and are important because they can
fund the entire athletic department, generate visibility, and lead to TV money.
Therefore, they should have large budgets.
FACT: While it is true that many of the largest schools (Division I-A) have
football and basketball teams that bring in profits, the vast majority of
football and basketball teams actually run a deficit - sometimes a large one.
In 1989, forty-five percent of football teams at Division I-A schools ran an
average deficit of $638,000. What's worse, the percentage of football teams
running deficits has been increasing over the years. In 1981, only 24% of
Division I-A football teams reported deficits.
Ninety-four percent of Division I-AA football teams ran an average deficit of
$535,000 per team. Ninety-seven percent of Division 11 football teams ran an
average deficit of $247,000. Out of all Division 1, 11, and III schools that
offer football and reported their earnings, only 19% made a profit.
Of basketball teams at Division 1, 11, and III schools that reported their
earnings, only 24% made a profit. Seventy-four percent of Division I-AA
basketball teams ran an average deficit of $199,000.63
MYTH: Successful football and basketball teams help spur alumni giving to the
university. Therefore, football and basketball teams must be well-funded and
FACT: The schools that receive the most from alumni giving are not the ones with
the big name football or basketball teams. Harvard, Cornell, and Yale
Universities top the list with the most money given by
alumni. In fact, some of the colleges with the most alumni giving per student
are women's colleges: Wellesley, Randolph Macon, Mt. Holyoke, Bryn Mawr, and
In any case, whether or not sports teams bring in money to a school is
irrelevant in the eyes of the law. According to Title IX, gender discrimination
at federally-funded educational institutions is illegal
even if the school's football team is making a profit or bringing in lots of
MYTH: Football requires a large number of players in order to be able to field
two teams for practice, and because of the high rate of injury football players
FACT: Do football teams really need 105 players, with 85 on full-ride
scholarships? After all, a football team is made up of
only 11 players. Even with four full teams (two to play against each other in
practice, and two extra teams), that is only 44 players.
The huge number of football scholarships is one reason schools have trouble
funding women's teams. Donna Lopiano, executive director of the Women's Sports
Foundation, points out: "If the NCAA were to cut the number of football
scholarships from 85 to 65 or 60, it would give every Division I school the
ability to comply with Title IX tomorrow."
Often, schools forced to implement gender equity will cut minor men's sports
rather than cut football funding. The men athletes whose sports are cut tend to
blame women and gender equity, instead of the bloated football budget.
MYTH: Compliance with Title IX means the doom of men's athletics.
FACT: Non-compliance with Title IX continues to mean the doom of women's
athletics. Title IX does not call for discrimination against men's sport; it
calls for gender equity. The aim is not to diminish the impact or importance of
men's sports, but instead to provide equity for women's sports. Contrary to
popular belief, as more women have entered athletics, they have not displaced
men. In fact, athletic opportunities for both women and men in high school and
college have increased over time.
MYTH: Women are naturally inferior to men in terms of strength and speed.
Therefore, women just can't be as good at sports as men.
FACT: All men are not stronger or faster than all women. There is great overlap
in the strength and speed of men and women. Because women on average have
greater flexibility, a greater percentage of body fat
(useful for ultra-distance races), and smaller size, we tend to be as good as or
better than men in some sports: marathon swimming, very long-distance running,
gymnastics, synchronized swimming, and horse racing, to name a few. And, in
recreational sports like tennis, golf, "Ultimate" Frisbee, softball, volleyball,
and countless others, women and men regularly
play against and with each other at similar skill levels.
Nevertheless, many men take great comfort in the fact that most women are not
big, strong, or fast enough to play football. Of course, most men are not
either. "Because women 'could never play football,' [men
imply], men are physically, naturally, biologically superior," says Mariah
Burton Nelson, author of The Stronger Women Get, the More Men Love Football.
"When women demonstrate excellence in sports like running, tennis, and golf, men
take great pains to describe that excellence as less
important, less worthy, less of an achievement than male excellence.
"These same people would never think of comparing Sugar Ray Leonard and Muhammed
Ali. One weighed sixty pounds more than the other. Clearly, they deserve to box
in different classes. Yet the top female tennis player is often compared to the
top male player.... who usually outweighs her by sixty pounds.
MYTH: High schools are exempt from gender-equity and Title IX because they are
funded by local money, not federal funds.
FACT: While primary and secondary education is controlled and funded largely by
local and state governments, schools also receive billions of dollars of federal
money through the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and other programs.
This federal money funds low income schools, magnet schools, migrant education,
drug-free schools, schools in districts with a large military base, and other
special programs. If your school district is one of the few that receives no
federal funds, you may still be able to enforce gender equity through a state
Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) or
state "Title IX" law.
States with ERAS: Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland,
Massachusetts, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah,
Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming. States with "Title IX"-type laws: Alaska,
California, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon,
Rhode Island, Washington, and Wisconsin.
Virtually all colleges and universities receive federal funds in the form of
financial aid and research grants.
MYTH: Colleges and universities in violation of Title IX, but who are above
national averages for women's participation and
funding, should be let off the hook.
FACT: Just because one college or university misses the mark by less than
another does not mean they have reached gender equity. Equity does not mean
almost equal or part-way. Women are half the population, pay half the tuition
and half the taxes, and we deserve equal treatment under Title IX.
MYTH: Colleges can't help it if more than half the athletes are male. Women are
just not as interested in athletics as men are.
FACT: It is no accident that colleges have more men athletes than women
athletes. More money is spent around the country recruiting men athletes. The
institutional average for athletic re-cruitment for Division I schools is
$139,000 for men's sports, and only $28,840 for women's sports. If recruitment
money were spent equally for women and men, schools would have a much better
chance of enrolling an equal number of women and men athletes.
MYTH: Gender equity issues must be put on hold because athletic budgets are too
tight at present.
FACT: Women are asking only for 50% of what is available - no more, no less. No
matter how small a budget, it can still be divided equally in two.
MYTH: Women do not have as much relevant experience as men do in running large
athletic departments. That is why they are not hired as athletics directors.
FACT: Colleges and schools must make an effort to hire competent women athletic
directors, to break the cycle. If women are not given the chance to gain
experience, how will they ever get it?
MYTH: It's hard for schools and colleges to hire women coaches because women
drop out of the workforce to raise a family.
FACT: The argument that women drop out of the work force for family reasons is a
common way to excuse sex discrimination. But there is no evidence that women
drop out in great numbers. In fact, 54% of mothers with children under 6 are in
the workforce - about the same as the percentage of all women who are in the
MYTH: Athletic administrations just don't receive as many applications from
FACT: With top positions, one does not wait for resumes. According to sports
equity researchers Linda Jean Carpenter and Vivian Acosta, "When an athletic
program is seeking applicants, experience seems to demonstrate that highly
qualified male candidates are identified and then recruited with the inducements
of salary or perquisites sufficient to get the candidate to leave his present
employer. The same is NOT true for highly qualified female candidates.
MYTH: Women don't belong in sports broadcasting of men's sports. They shouldn't
invade the privacy of men's locker rooms.
FACT: Why, then, do men broadcast most of the women's sporting events? And why
is it OK that male reporters, athletic trainers, and coaches regularly go into
women's locker rooms?
MYTH: Sports is not an important issue for women's equality -we should be
focusing on more important issues like political participation and pay equity.
FACT: Athletics affect pay equity, leadership development, and women's health.
The exclusion of women from sports creates a false image of women as the weaker
sex, which leads to our exploitation in all walks of life. Feminists and women
in athletics must join together to end discrimination against women and girls in
This Empowering Women in Sports report is a publication of the Feminist Majority
Foundation's Task Force on Women and Girls in Sports.
This archive was generated by hypermail 2.0b3 on Thu Jan 07 1999 - 13:11:18 EST