Athletes Still Making An Equal Playing Field

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Photo courtesy of Gabrielle Daley

The girls lacrosse team on their senior night during the 2019 spring season.

Molly Kennedy, Sports Editor

Passed in 1972 as part of the education amendments, Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any education program or activity that receives federal funding. Although commonly recognized for its impact on athletics, it covers much more than just athletics.

The amendment, when originally passed, had a large impact on female athletes. Prior to Title IX, women’s’ sports lacked funding, and no college scholarships were offered to women. The number of women in sports grew exponentially after the implementation of Title IX. According to the Women’s Sports Foundation, prior to Title IX, there were 1 in 27 girls competing in athletics; today 2 in 5 girls compete in athletics.

Some people claim that Title IX hurts male athletes, or male teams because it enforces an equal amount of funding of male and female teams, compared to prior where money was just given to just male athletics. According to the article “A Whole New Ballgame” published in The New York Times, in the past 30 years, men’s college wrestling has had the most cuts, as there have been more than 100 teams dropped at the division 1 level. Some argue that the reasoning behind this is Title IX because it calls for an equal amount of funding for males and females. Yet nearly 80 percent of D1 college athletic funding goes to just basketball and football.

Prior to Title IX, there were 1 in 27 girls competing in athletics; today 2 in 5 girls compete in athletics.”

Men and women compete in school, in the workplace, but are not expected to compete with one another in athletics. This is because men are consistently stronger, and faster due to biological reasons. when there are sports that only have females on them such as field hockey, due to Title IX it allows males to play.

Title IX makes it so any single-sex team must implement members of the opposite sex. For example, if a girl wanted to participate in football or wrestling, or a boy wanted to participate in field hockey they are allowed to. As more strong female athletes rise it is becoming much more common to see girls playing high school football. According to the Sports and Fitness Industry Association, of the 5.5 million Americans who report playing tackle football, 596,000 which is 10.9% are female. Trevor Pluff, a sophomore and member of the WSHS cheerleading team, is the only male on the team and expressed that being a part of the cheerleading team completely changed his life. Cheer, a girl dominated sport has seen an influx of male athletes over the years. “All coaches need to have an open line of communication as I have with mine now because it helps to have guidance when needed with social problems you might face from other people,” said Pluff. There is an entire co-ed division for cheerleading at the high school level.

Some students at WSHS believe co-ed sports would make sports less competitive, “Men biologically have a superior advantage over women in sports, switching the two would make them less competitive,” said senior Dallas Comi. Some students believe the segregation of men and women in athletics is not helping athletes, and instead, males and females should be equally integrated on teams. Therefore, if all sports were co-ed and implemented in all schools it could be beneficial, “If every high school had co-ed sports then it would be fair because it would be balanced with girls and guys playing the sport that they enjoy,” said sophomore Bakhita Mousa.

In 2019, in a much more accepting society, Title IX reaches across a broader spectrum than just women and men. There has been a rising number of people who identify as transgender in the 20th century. An ongoing discussion about how Title IX affects people who are transgender has surfaced. Prior to Barack Obama becoming president, Title IX did not cover sexual orientation or transgenderism. While Obama was president, he made it so Title IX prohibited discrimination based on sex, gender identity, and transgender status, so people use the bathroom or locker room that corresponds with their gender identity. More recently, in 2019 President Trump set new guidelines for Title IX. Instead of being decided at the federal level, Trump made it so policies such as whether transgender students are allowed in their identified sexes’ restroom are decided on a state level.

Last year controversy sparked last year in Connecticut among the girl’s track and field team. Over the summer, three female track and field athletes filed a federal Titles IX discrimination complaint about Connecticut’s athletic transgender policy. Runners Terry Miller and Andraya Yearwood (male to female transgender athletes) are identified in the complaint. The three girls claimed they were put at a competitive disadvantage and harmed their chances of receiving college scholarships. In this past winter season, Miller and Yearwood placed first and second in the 55-meter dash at the state indoor track championships. Along with last spring, Miller won the 200-meter dash and was part of the winning 4×400 meter relay in the outdoor state championship.

According to transathlete.com, there are 19 states that allow transgender athletes to compete without restriction in k-12, Massachusetts being one of them. At the college level, the NCAA does not require gender-confirming surgery, however, it does require one year of hormone treatment prior to competing on a female team. If you are not taking hormone treatments related to your gender transition, one may participate in one’s assigned birth gender.

Title IX, although controversial, has brought equality into sports and is still working to improve rules in order to have sports promote equality and safety.