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SBD/Issue 55/Sports & Society
"60 Minutes" Gets In The Middle Of The Debate On Title IX
Published December 2, 2002
On last night's "60 Minutes," CBS' Bob Simon examined Title IX in the wake of a recent lawsuit brought by a group of male wrestling coaches against the legislation and the U.S. government's recent hearings studying possible changes to the law. In looking at its impact, Simon reported that while "women have been making giant strides" in collegiate athletics since Title IX's enactment in '72, "hundreds of men's teams have been eliminated, and the men say that ... trails back to Title IX." Univ. of Chicago wrestling coach Leo Kocher, a member of the group that brought the suit, said, "I don't think the American public understands what is going on in colleges. I don't think they understand they are applying a quota law to sports in college." While Simon spoke to Title IX beneficiaries like Julie Foudy, he also spoke to male athletes who told stories of their programs being cut due to their schools needing to comply with Title IX. Simon noted that as many men's programs are getting cut, "colleges are dropping what are called minor men's sports, the ones that don't draw crowds or make money, while they are investing more and more in just one sport ... football. Women who defend Title IX claim that if colleges only spent a little less on football, they could have all the wrestlers they wanted." FL Coastal School of Law Professor and former Olympic athlete Nancy Hogshead-Maker: "They are not cutting that [men's] team because of Title IX. They are cutting that team because it is a budget decision they make." But Kocher looked at Title IX's focus on gender equality and wondered, "There might not be as many women interested in athletics as there are men, and I'm saying this law does not allow for this possibility." Simon asked Hogshead-Maker about the possibility that women are not as interested in athletics as men, and she said, "I find that argument as insulting as when they used to say, 'Women are not interested in owning property. Women aren't interested in voting.'" Simon noted that a government commission recently concluded hearings on Title IX throughout the U.S. and will offer recommendation on the future of the law early next year.
OFFERING EXAMPLES: Meanwhile, Simon looked at Title IX compliance at the Univ. of MD and AZ State Univ. (ASU). ASU has developed new facilities and is now actively seeking to add women's sports to get in compliance, as only 40% of the athletes are women at a school where 52% of students are women, and Simon reported that, like at many other schools, it "has turned into a numbers game." ASU is "considering, here, in the middle of the desert, the creation of a women's varsity rowing team," But in seeking for compliance, they will not add a men's rowing team. Simon: "It's great for the college, great for the girls and it really ticks off the boys" ("60 Minutes," CBS, 12/1).