Sport Opportunities for Females in College

For women interested in playing college sports, 1972 was a very important year. It was then that Title IX was passed. Designed to give women more opportunities to participate in athletics during their pursuit of undergraduate degrees , it required schools to offer more sports scholarships for women. It was hoped that Title IX would increase the number of opportunities for women athletes, which would eventually lead to equality for males and females involved in various sports.

Over the past thirty-some years, there is no doubt that significant progress has been made. However, a report compiled in 2002 revealed that there is still a long way to go before true equality is realized. According to the report by the Chronicle of Higher Education (CHE), only 45 colleges were in compliance with Title IX. That meant that there were still thousands of schools that did not meet the criteria set forth in Title IX. Among those who had achieved equality were Ohio State, Syracuse, and Texas Tech.

Most schools trying to figure out whether they are in compliance with Title IX take the approach of comparing the number of women enrolled in undergraduate programs to the number actively involved in varsity sports. To meet the requirements of Title IX, some schools have increased sports opportunities for women and decreased those available to men. For example, men's sports that aren't as popular, such as wrestling and gymnastics, are increasingly being cut. At the same time, women's golf and rowing teams have been added at many schools. It all comes down to money. Most schools have a limited athletics budget, so adding more women's teams requires cuts in other sports programs. Cutting funding for men's sports like football and baseball is not a popular option; it is far more likely that less popular sports like fencing, tennis, or gymnastics would be cut from the sports curriculum to accommodate the desired growth in women's sports programs.

As a result of these changes, women have more opportunities to receive athletic scholarships and funding than ever before. While there may still be fierce competition for highly popular women's college sports like basketball, colleges with women's rowing, soccer, and golf teams are always on the lookout for potential additions to their teams. Because the competition for these teams is often low, particularly at smaller schools, even females with limited athletic ability may be able to play on these teams and receive scholarship funding. A female strong at rowing, for example, may qualify for scholarships that will pay for most of her education costs.

Not surprisingly, many male athletes feel short-changed by all of the cuts to men's college sports programs. They feel it is not only highly unfair, but also a type of sex-based discrimination. For schools trying to meet the regulations of Title IX, however, there is often no choice but to cut men's athletic programs to free up the funds needed to establish a stronger women's sports program. Whether or not Title IX is changed in the future, it is clear that women currently have more opportunities than ever before to play university sports and to receive scholarship funding for their efforts.

Last Updated: 04/24/2014

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