Tuesday, April 8, 2008

All That for a Wrestling Program

Via the Title IX Blog, a letter in the Notre Dame student paper from college student John Witty:

"When I started reading Greg Yatarola's column, "The tyranny of Title IX," it was April 2nd, 2008, but when I looked up from my paper it was 1950. The world had gone black and white, Notre Dame hadn't admitted women, and apparently, people cared about wrestling.

The fact that Yatarola feels that wrestling should be priority No. 1 for the University, which frankly has more important things to worry about, isn't the worst part. Even worse is the fact that he discounted every athlete, coach, staffer, or fan of women's athletics at Notre Dame and beyond. From his sweeping claims that men are physically superior, to his inappropriate and unnecessary drop-in comment about women athletes being "comfort women," Yatarola is the exact kind of person that Title IX responds to.

There are some who agree and some who disagree with Title IX, so let me try to put it into phrasing that Yatarola might understand - Title IX is a disgrace. It's an absolute injustice, for no other reason than it is a relatively small attempt to apologize and make up for the massively one-sided, unfair, and unequal past treatment of women in the collegiate atmosphere. Its embarrassing existence is a painful reminder that our society actually had to write into law something that should have been a given in the first place - women deserve equal and just treatment. Yes there are flaws present in the implementation of Title IX, but since then, our female athletes have been able to pursue professional careers in sports, Muffet McGraw and Randy Waldrum (among others) have built nationally-ranked and recognized programs, and women's athletics has grown exponentially, and this is just at Notre Dame.

It may be just my opinion, but if all we lost for this growth was a dead-weight wrestling program 16 years ago, I'd say we're doing just fine. And Greg, if you're hard up for some tough, hard-nosed, and "hopelessly working-class" competition, tune in Sunday to ESPN to see the coach with the most wins, male or female, in college basketball. Her name is Pat Summit and she's coaching the Tennessee Lady Volunteers. And to think, she wouldn't have 7 national championships and all those wins - if only Notre Dame kept a wrestling program."

Personally, I think the final paragraph gets to the core of what really bothers me about the anti-feminist position on Title IX which essentially is this: Even though women had so very little when it came to organized collegiate sports, colleges should only support women's sports teams if it in no way "harms" men's sports teams.

If there is a blame for the demise of smaller men's teams, it lies with the messy implementation of Title IX and the privilege of "big time" men's sports, not with women who were never given the opportunity to compete pre-Title IX.

In addition, I have to add the following, as did the authors of Title IX Blog, smaller men's sports programs and Title IX need not and should not be mutually exclusive.

"We have a common enemy in the historic and continuing practice on the part of university athletic departments to grow and increase spending for certain, privileged men's sports at the expense of both women's sports and other men's sports."

Because Title IX is often demonized as a "it kills men's wrestling programs" law, what often gets overlooked is that Title IX is about more than sports. As the above student's letter alludes, Title IX was written as a response to gender discrimination in higher education. Patsy Mink, a representative from Hawaii, wrote the Title IX Amendment as a result of discrimination she faced in college. After facing racial discrimination at the University of Nebraska, her hopes of becoming a doctor were dashed when none of the medical schools to which she applied accepted women at the time. Thereafter, she applied to law school, and the rest is history. Because of this woman's experience, determination, and opportunity to go to law school, she opened the door for other women to have opportunities she did not have.

And for that, I am thankful.

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