Legislation and Sport

This is the first of a number of articles that describes Government legislation, from different places, that directly concerns athletes and sports followers.

Title IX; Patsy Mink Equal Opportunities in Education Act (USA)

Web link: US Dept of Education, Title IX Sex Discrimination https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/tix_dis.html#:~:text=Title%20IX%20states%3A,activity%20receiving%20Federal%20financial%20assistance.

The below article is a synopsis of an essay from Jamie Schultz’s book Women’s Sports, What Everyone Needs To Know published by Oxford University Press, 2018.

Womens Sports

What everyone needs to know

Jamie Schultz

Chapter 3 The influence of Title IX; Patsy Mink Equal Opportunities in Education Act

Passed in 1972, 50th Anniversary.

1972 – Slow build up to compliance in sport

1975 – US Congress approved Title IX language for sport

1 year compliance in elementary schools; 3 years for compliance in High Schools and Colleges.

1971 – 1 in 27, 300,000 school girls participated in sport; 2017 10 fold increase, 2 in 5 or 3 million school girls playing sports.

1982 NCAA took over inter-collegiate sports. 73,351 college women athletes by 2017 211,862 college participants, 7 times the number in pre-Title IX era.

3-prong test for compliance:

US Department of Education Office of Civil Rights (OCR), oversees Title IX

  1. Substantial Proportionality
  2. History and continued practice of program expansion
  3. Full and effective accommodation of interests and abilities
  1. The percentage of male/female athletes in athletic program reflects the percentage of full-time undergraduates.
  2. Working to add more participant opportunities for the under-represented sex
  3. A school can argue that the under-representation of one sex in an athletic program is not due to discrimination but, rather, to the interests and abilities of the gender in question, which the school has fully and effectively accommodated.

Schools only need comply with one of the prongs to be compliant with the legislation.

Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act 1994

80% – 90% non-compliance, but no complaints to investigations.

Government does not initiate investigation, salaried staff and athletes deterred from complaining due to future repercussions.

Civil Rights Restoration Act 1988

If a school receives funding under Title IX, The whole institution must be compliant under Title IX and not just the programs funded by the federal government.

Title IX is still needed, 3.3 million girls playing high school sports is still les than the number of boys playing high school sports in 1972 before Title IX was introduced.

Women college students make up 55% of the enrolment in 4-year institutions, but women athletes account for 43.5%.

“Women sports receive less funding and lesser prestige, women lag behind in positions of power including coaching and administrative positions.   Even after four decades of Title IX, the law is under threat.”

Sexual harassment and sexual violence:

Title IX prohibits both as they are based on sex-based discrimination.  Negatively impacts on the performance of the athlete.  Several court against where athletes were forced to bring cases against their own Universities:

Jennings v. Univ. of North Carolina; Simpson v. Univ. of Colorado;
Univ. of Georgia; the University of Notre Dame; Brown University; Florida State University; Michigan State University; Vanderbilt University and especially Baylor University.

Baylor University: “deliberate indifference” when dealing with allegations of violence.

 A 2017 lawsuit concerning the years 2011 – 2014, Baylor University officials were aware of a growing problem of sexual assaults, during which time the football programme by coach Art Briles was reaching national prominence.  At least 31 members of the football team committed at least 52 rapes including 5 gang rapes.

Referencing a 2016 article in the Waco Tribune that reported on the Jane Doe v. Baylor University case “plantiff charged that as many as eight members of the football team drugged, kidnapped and repeatedly raped her. Doe told multiple Baylor told multiple Baylor employees about the incident… no one reported it to Baylor’s Office of Judicial Affairs or law enforcement officials.  In Doe’s suit, she alleged that gang rape was part of a hazing and initiation ritual for freshman football players….. Investigators found that athletic administrators ‘affirmatively chose not to report sexual violence’…opting to protect the programs reputation…..The report concluded that ‘instituional failures at every level of Baylor’s administration impacted the response to individual cases and the Baylor community as a whole’ ”.

The essay concludes that Title IX had not been invoked in all the allegations of sexual assault.  But perhaps they should be, as more allegations come to light, the public learn that accusers experience lack of support, intimidation and retaliation. Their physical, emotional and social well-being suffers and many drop-out of school.  Coaches and university administrators ignored and covered-up allegations of abuse, obstructed justice and disciplined players with no more than a slap on the wrist, when they were disciplined at all”.

For these reasons we desperately need Title IX.  In fact unless there is a major culturally shift in US sport, Title IX needs to be even stronger.

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