My research topic question is, “Is Title IX unethical?” My research shall answer the question, arguing that Title IX is unethical.
Statement of the Problem
The purpose of this paper is to explore whether or not cutting men’s sports to comply with Title IX is ethical. Title IX states, “No person in the United States of America shall, based on sex, be excluded from participation, be denied the benefits of, or get subjected to discrimination under education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” It is part of the civil rights laws made under the education amendments of 1972. In simple terms, the law requires that both genders be granted equal opportunity in sporting activities. Since the ratification of the law, the way athletics gets handled in the USA changed completely. To some point, people have questioned the ethics behind the Title. Title IX applies to every institution in the United States of America, and evaluated through the three-prong tests; participation, scholarships, and other benefits. The participation test is the most important test among the three. It requires institutions to be provided equal athletic opportunities to both genders. In other words, athletic participation in any institution should be 50% male and 50% female. Any institution that doesn’t adhere to the 50-50 participation rule is said to have failed the participation test of the prong test. The scholarship and other benefits get evaluated based on whether or not the institution provides scholarships and other benefits such as locker rooms, training facilities, and medical facilities while considering the principle of equality. The evaluation of participation is the most important test for this topic because it raises the question of ethics. Even though the proposers of the law argue that it is ethical because it adheres to the stipulations of equality, granting women a 50% chance in athletics means cutting down men’s sports to accommodate women sports, raising the question, is this ethical? This test brings out the Title as a biased law because it is discriminatory towards male involvement in sports, violates athletics equity, interferes with sports opportunities, and creates an imbalance in athletics. Title IX of collegiate athletics is unethical. In light of this, this paper presents argument research backing the claim that Title IX is unethical.
Justification of the Topic
This topic is important because it elicits the true nature of inequality, which exists in the field of sports. Exploring the topic enables us to understand how the country, for the longest time, has undervalued the energy in sports in the shadow of pursuing equality. As described above, the male athletes are still the backbone of collegiate athletics, because their zeal keeps athletics lively and moving. Title IX undermines male athletics, and as long as it exists, intercollegiate athletics will never achieve equality. We should be interested in this topic because it prompts us to think of the ways we can work to bring justices to athletics.
Granting Power to Female Athletes: An Overview of Title IX
In the United States of America past, sports were always seen as something that belongs to the people of the male gender. The country put less consideration in the efforts to advance female sports. This was because competitive sports running into tournaments like Olympics, World Cup, and others ran across the nations—both national and international—had created the notion that only the male gender was sports- talented. This reduced the female gender participation in field game activities, turning them into mere spectators; most of them sat at the sidelines because it was unnatural for them to engage in sporting competitions. Many teenage girls were discriminated against as they were regularly told that indulgence in any kind of sporting activity was not only unfeminine but also evidence of lesbianism. At the time when females hit the age where they could indulge in sporting activities, they were sidelined and instead asked to indulge in feminine activities such as making their hair, lengthening their skirts, and other things that were female-like. At that time, the majority of the people held the belief that the female body was weaker than that of the male gender—and wasn’t in a position to handle or rather sustain any form of sporting activity. However, not all women bought into the idea that females are unfit to indulge in athletics. Feminists emerged and started to push for female rights as far as indulging in sporting activities was concerned.
The first feminist to push for female rights to participate in sporting activities was Susan Were through her publicly acclaimed book titled, “Title Ix: A Brief History with Documents.” She wrote, “Active exercise was my delight. No boy could be my field till I had him beaten in a race, and no girl if she refused to climb a tree, leap fences, and be a tomboy” (Were). This was back in the 19th century, and as years continued to pass, more females began to show outrage, wanting to be included in the participation of sports. The outrage was finally addressed by the government via the Title IX Amendment of 1972 and became part of the US Education Amendments. Title IX states, “No person in the United States of America shall, based on sex, be excluded from participation, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” At the time of the ratification of the amendment, the declaration became controversial but still managed to make a permanent change in the athletic landscape of the United States of America. Young females throughout the country had their dreams of indulging in sports become realistic, as the Title opened doors of doing so to many of them. It also allowed them to indulge in sporting activities with some of the biggest athletes’ names around the world.
As it has been made clear, sports are among the many things that were addressed via Title IX of 1972. Other topics that were as well addressed under this Title included the issues of the emerging technology, sexual harassment in schools, employment, advancement in mathematics and sciences, access to collegiate and university education, and education for expectant girls. Sometime in 1974, the United States of America’s Department of Health, Education, and Public Welfare got millions of public comments about the newly amended Title IX. These comments were about the newly proposed athletic guidelines. As mentioned, the guidelines became a subject of controversies, causing a heated debate from the public. Those who opposed the guidelines claimed that Title IX was unethical because it was not only vague but also violated the definition of equal opportunity. The opposers of Title IX defined it as a way of cutting men’s sports in order to give women more power in athletics. They argued that if at all the Title was fair and ethical, it would have granted the equal opportunity for both genders to engage in sports, but not cut men’s sports for the benefit of female sports. They also claimed that the definition of Title IX was vague as it did clearly state what the athletic directors were to go about the whole athletic thing in institutions. As a result of the comments, Title IX was re-drafted once more, and draft filed under Document 4 of the Title. The document provided guidelines to be followed by athletic directors in the United States institutions. The document required the below factors to be put under consideration in regard to all levels of sports within the country; the levels of competition were to accommodate both genders, and on equal measures, the same amount of athletic supplies were to be given to both sexes, gender was to be considered during the scheduling of games, travel and daily allowances were to be given to both genders while considering equality, and other facilities such as training facilities, locker rooms, dining facilities, and medical services were to be awarded to both male and female athletes. This document changed the face of athletics in the United States of America; it officially introduced women to the world of sports, granting them the power to participate in the same fields as men. It opened doors for women to receive athletic scholarships to enable them to pursue sporting activities beyond the high school or collegiate levels. In other words, it gave energy to female sports. As () puts it, “Title IX instantly skyrocketed the level of opportunity for women at universities, while inspiring young girls to never give up on their dreams of becoming an athletic superstar.”
Title IX continued to be advanced to favor female athletics. Further amendments were made to address the remaining number of questions that still caused public fracas. The US Department of Health, Education, and Public Welfare, in 1979, added a clause to Title IX of the Amendment. This amendment appeared under document 10 of Were’s book, and it focused on the compliance with the established regulations. It outlined the procedure of assessing whether institution heads implemented the policies under the Title. The amendment gave the country’s officials the power to assess institutions and determine whether or not the institutions were granting the athletic services, benefits, and treatment on equal measures to both genders. If any institution was found guilty of not complying with the Title’s guidelines, they were put under punitive measures. The department ratified rules to elevate female athletics, the more the public protested against them; the more the Title advanced, the more it was termed unethical. The public continued to argue that if the definition of equal opportunity was something to go by, it would have been wise for the Title to reflect the needs of both male and female athletics, but not overpower female athletics at the expense of male athletics. This meant that many Americans, including the athletes, hand their own understanding of how female athletics was to be approached. As a result of the misunderstanding, compliance to Title IX via the nation was delayed, even though the amendments now made it clearer what female athletics was to cover.
In the ‘80s, Title IX grew to become a subject of debate; many people questioned and debated about the ethics of the amendment. Some people supported the proposition while others still pushed for it to be re-drafted so that it would reflect the element of equal opportunity. Most opposers felt that the Title IX cut male athletics, and therefore, they came together and pushed for the modification of the Title so that it would grant male athletics more athletic opportunity. This was backed with the argument that male athletics was more productive and resourceful; hence, it required more attention. In the early 1990’s push for compliance of Title IX became vibrant. For instance, Brown University was sued for violating the Title. It allegedly demoted the women’s volleyball team from participating in the school’s tournament, which was later reinstated back into the school team after the Judge in charge of the case found that the institution hadn’t complied with the Title, elicited by the three-prong test. A three-prong test was a test conducted to determine whether or not an institution complied with the guidelines under Title IX. The institution’s volleyball team had 64% males and 36% females, while the Title required a 50-50% chance to be granted to both genders, meaning that compliance to the Title meant that this institution, as well as other institutions, were to cut male athletics down to 50% and increase female athletics up to 50%, and this is why it was considered as unethical.
The ’90s also seemed like a win to the women of color because the Title was further modified to accommodate their interests in athletics, which for the longest time, had been ignored. A number of studies conducted under the authorization of the Department of Health, Education, and Public Welfare discovered that African American female athletes were widely suffered from racial and sexual discrimination in athletics. They were not only being victimized but also denied opportunities to participate in sports. Their male counterparts were being considered more than them. In her document, Ware wrote, “Female athletes of color have experienced a dramatic increase in sports participation opportunities, an increase not at the expense of men, in the years since the passage of Title IX.” This means that Title IX was not only breaking gender barriers but also racial barriers as far as athletics was concerned.
The current landscape of athletics is solely influenced by Title IX of 1972. The Title has enabled all women, regardless of race, to participate in athletic activities on the same grounds that male athletes used to claim years back, and it is on equal measures. Today, women equally have a chance of being granted scholarships to pursue athletic activities. Additionally, the law has eliminated gender and racial discrimination in sports. Even though it was, and still remains to be a controversial amendment, it has brightened the future of female athletes.
Conclusion: Title IX in Relation To Sports Is Ethical
The above discussion gives a historical evolution of Title IX in relation to gender participation in athletic activities. As discussed, the Title became a subject of controversy and was highly opposed because it violated the stipulations of the equal opportunity act. This controversy was sparked by the ethics behind the Title. For many people, it didn’t seem right to limit male athletics so that it would comply with the provisions of the Title, while it was open that not many females showed interest in pursuing athletics; a study conducted by () shows that then and now, males are more obsessed with athletics in comparison with the females. Therefore, limiting male athletics for the benefit of the latter gender is highly unethical. In light of this, this section uses the Markkula Ethical Framework to argue that Title IX of sports, which advocated for cutting men athletics to accommodate female athletics, is unethical.
The utilitarianism approach of ethical decision making requires that the most ethical decision made should provide the greatest of good for the largest group of people. In this case, a decision will be regarded as ethical if it addresses the needs of the many at the expense of the few. According to Utilitarianism, the decisions to cut men’s sports to achieve equality are unethical. According to a study conducted by The National Federation of State High School Association, the number of a male taking part in sporting activities is still higher than the number of female indulging in the same. According to their reports, “There were 294, 015 girls involved in high school sports in 1972, and 3.6 million boys. Today, that number has grown to 3,173,549; but still, there are 1.3 million more boys in sports than girls today.” The statistics affirm that the male is the majority gender in athletics; hence the guidelines under Title IX, which allow cutting of male sports, should be re-drafted to benefit the male athletes; only then will it become ethical.
Title IX requiring the cutting of men’s sports to accommodate female sports is still unethical as per the justice approach. The justice approach acknowledges that justice is not applicable in all circumstances, but even still, it should elicit equity. Granting 50-50 opportunities for male and female athletes may sound just, but in the real sense, it isn’t; it is fair to the female athletes and unfair for the male athletes. This is because it improves the quality of female athletics while reducing the quality of male athletics. According to Irving (2003), “Freeing up money for women’s sports correlated with lower costs and lower standards for men’s sports.” According to Irving, while it may seem like granting power to female athletics is practicing justice and fairness, it is actually destroying it, together with the face of athletics in the country, because statistically, men are more interested intercollegiate athletics, when compared to women. In any case, men’s athletics shouldn’t be cut.
Title IX is also unethical as per the common good approach. The common good approach states that an ethical decision is that which promotes the wellness of everybody in public. However, the Title is not ethical because it discriminated against male athletes. In an attempt to achieve equality in gendered sports, men’s sports are being undermined and removed in the basic resistance to the initial aim of the Act. In my opinion, and regard to ethics, Title IX of institutional athletics should be revised to please the wishes of the majority, elicit fairness in relational terms and promote the good of the public.
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