Friday, June 10, 2005

Female athletes deserved ruling

When the U.S. Supreme Court this week rejected an attack on the 1972 Title IX law, which opened the way to even-handed treatment of female athletes in school budgets, the justices delivered a profound message: Equivalent treatment of women in secondary and collegiate sports is here to stay.

The National Wrestling Coaches Association had filed suit against the federal government and lost in a lower court, complaining the number of NCAA wrestling teams had dropped from 363 to 222. The association blamed unfair diversion of funds to female athletics.

The us-against-them moaning of male athletes is disingenuous. Until Title IX was enacted, male sports enjoyed a virtual monopoly on funding for programs, while women's sports were starved.

It's amazing that in 2005, anyone could argue with a straight face against a federal program that provides women with fair and balanced support for their athletics in institutions that receive federal funds?

Male football still reigns as the dominant sport in high schools and colleges as a moneymaker and place of worship for alumni. Basketball is a close second.

If male wrestling is losing funding, which presumably means it's losing its following, then alumni and students could hold car washes and bake sales the way women supported their teams in years when male sports garnered the lion's share of school funds.

Given the chance, women hold their own. As readers of sports pages know, women are developing huge followings in golf, tennis, basketball and now in even the ultimate male competitive "sport"—Indy racing. But they clearly need the continued support of the law as well.

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