0

All athletes deserve a fair chance to play

It was absolutely fantastic being able to watch Collins Hill graduate Maya Moore dominate in college basketball for the University of Connecticut this year, earning player of the year honors. She has earned every single accolade and award that she has received, and she will earn many, many more.

What a lot of people don't know is if it had not been for Title IX legislation that was put into effect about 35 years ago, we might not have had the pleasure of watching Maya perform. This law was extremely necessary at that time. There was a great amount of discrimination against women, which was wrong and needed corrected.

Basically, what Title IX did was say that athletically, there has to be the same ratio of female to male athletes as there are full-time undergraduate students in a college. In other words, if there are 10,000 students in a college, and 6,000 are females, then 60 percent of the athletes must be female.

But now it's 2009, not 1975. In the last two decades, there have been several adverse side effects due to how Title IX has been interpreted and implemented. When reading the information that follows, please do not label me as one who is trying to hurt, diminish or in any way negatively affect women's sports. As I said, Title IX was extremely important, has furthered opportunities for hundreds of thousands of women, and that should never stop.

But a lot has changed since the mid-1970s. There are almost 1,000 more teams in the NCAA for women than for men. Female intercollegiate athletic participation is up by 456 percent, whereas available athletic opportunities for males are down 21 percent.

I'm sure that this was not the intention of the law - to help women at the expense of men. The main reason that these men's sports have been eliminated is due to the proportionality aspect of the law that I explained earlier.

There are a couple of problems with this. One, in a normal football program, there are often more than 80 athletes. To neutralize that number, a university might need to add four or five women's programs to keep the male and female programs proportionate. Or they might add two or three women's programs and eliminate a couple men's teams.

Another problem with the proportionality part of the law is it does not consider the undeniable fact that boys have more interest in competitive sports than girls. Indicators that prove this are participation rates in intramural sports, high school sports, club teams and the number of walk-ons. The Bush administration compiled these numbers about sports interest in surveys conducted all over the country.

So going back to that college with 10,000 students, more men than women would like to have the chance to be on a competitive team at the college, but 60 percent of the athletes must be women.

Concerning undergraduate enrollments, in the early 1970s, only about 30 percent of the full-time students in college were women. Today, on average, 57 percent of all full-time students across the nation are female. Projections are showing that it will reach 60 percent over the next five years. At some point, the public is going to be concerned with how to bolster undergraduate male enrollment. What better way to do that than to offer programs that attract men to college - like sports.

Again, I firmly believe that the Title IX law was very important and was past due. It has helped countless girls pursue the sports they love. But it was never intended to decrease discrimination in one gender just to increase it in the other.

One final point: If Title IX, as it is being enforced, was around in the 1960s and 1970s, I would not be writing this. I was a 118-pound wrestler at Southwest Missouri State University in Springfield, Mo.

I've been a head wrestling coach at four different high schools over the past 33 years. If my team had dropped wrestling back then, I would not have had that opportunity to compete and I would not have been coaching over the past third of a century.

The Southwest Missouri State wrestling team is another casualty. The program was dropped in the 1990s - one of the 800 mens collegiate athletic programs that have been dropped - which has unfortunately become an unintentional byproduct of Title IX legislation.

Cliff Ramos is the head wrestling coach at Collins Hill High School. His teams have won four traditional state titles and three state duals titles in his 15 years at the Suwanee school.