Thursday, May 5, 2011

Gender war in high school athletics: what role can boosters play?

Title IX requires equal funding of all educational programs, including athletics, regardless of gender.  According to the Women's Sports Foundation, the law has resulted in a 904% increase in participation by females in high school athletics and 456% increase in participation by females in college athletics.  There is also an ongoing debate about whether Title IX has the unintended consequence of hurting male athletic programs by forcing school's with budget issues to eliminate male athletic programs or teams to equalize funding. 

The Haverhill Touchdown Club, the boosters for the Haverhill, Massachusetts high school football team, had their own encounter with Title IX recently.  According to the Lawrence-Eagle Tribune, the Touchdown Club intended to donate $15,000 to help cover the athletic fees for football players, which run $275 per year (the same as other varsity fees).  The high school football team has not a won a game in three years, and according to the Tribune, far fewer students play on the team than before the fees were instituted.  The Touchdown Club discovered, however, that it would need to donate $15,000 to cover boys' fees and $15,000 to cover girls' fees to comply with Title IX.  The Club scrapped their plans for the donation and are considering other avenues to help the football team now. 

Although I do not have any experience in Title IX, this story is a good example at how laws relating to discrimination and equal opportunity can apply in surprising ways.  Whether you are an employer or an individual, it is a good practice to think broadly, even creatively, about whether your actions implicate such laws. 

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