Bush administration forfeits to feminists on college playing fields

Phyllis Schlafly

7/22/2003 12:00:00 AM - Phyllis Schlafly

The Bush administration has reaffirmed the Title IX outrages of President Clinton-era feminists, which impose a gender quota-like system on college sports. Feminists are squealing with joy, but President Bush is dreaming if he thinks they will reward him with their votes.

At least 56 percent of college students are women, yet only a fraction of those female students seek to compete in intercollegiate sports. The Clinton administration feminists' "proportionality" test laid down the absurd rule that a college or university with fewer than 56 percent of women on its athletic teams would be engaging in unlawful sex discrimination.

To protect against lawsuits, colleges have been disbanding men's teams, a practice that does not benefit women. College wrestling, one of the least expensive sports to operate, is a major casualty of this mindless demand for quota equality.

Other fatalities include men's track and field, swimming and gymnastics. Howard University even abandoned its baseball team. You don't have to be a math major to compare the total number of male and female athletes at a college and then dismantle men's teams until the proportion reflects enrollment.

A July 11, 2003, "guidance" letter sent by the Bush administration to all colleges tosses soft-soap language at the men such as "the elimination of teams is a disfavored practice." But the guidance preserves the "proportionality" methodology that invites attorneys to sue any deep-pocket college with a gender-quota discrepancy.

The new guidance promises that the Department of Education will "aggressively enforce" Title IX and continue to use the Clinton administration's three-prong test, which the guidance claims "has worked well." More important, the guidance keeps the door open for feminist lawyers to continue to take the "proportionality" prong all the way to the bank and hope to collect more than $1 million in attorneys' fees from each college. That was the lawyers' fee for suing Brown University.

The guidance proves that President Bush's statements against quotas are only rhetoric. The guidance allows colleges to continue using quotas, under the code guise of proportionality, which the liberals and feminists who run the colleges are eager to use.

Private funding cannot save men's sports teams because this battle is not about money. Many male teams, such as football, are excellent fund-raisers because alumni, like most sports fans, are bigger fans of men's sports than they are of women's sports.

Walk-on athletes, who are not recruited or financed by the college, should be removed from gender comparisons, because they reflect the fact that men are far more interested in sports. Older women, who increasingly attend college but are beyond their athletically competitive years, should also be excluded.

At the very least, the Bush administration should have called for comparing the gender ratio of those who make the teams against those who tried out. If a higher percentage of women make the teams than men do, which is usually the case, then the college is probably not discriminating.

Last year, Education Secretary Rod Paige appointed a panel to study the effect of Title IX on college sports. But after feminists went on a media attack against reform, the Bush administration retreated in fear.

Paige quelled the commotion by announcing he would consider only proposals that received unanimous commission support. That guaranteed perpetuation of the status quo.

Men on sports teams act like men, and feminists are hostile to male culture. College football produces social conservatives such as former U.S. Sen. Jack Kemp, R-N.Y., former Reps. Steve Largent, R-Wash., and J.C. Watts, R-Okla., and the late Supreme Court Justice Byron "Whizzer" White.

College wrestling brought us conservative stalwarts Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill. Track and field yielded Rep. Jim Ryun, R-Kan., who won the silver medal in the 1,500-meter run at the 1968 Olympics and is considered one of the greatest U.S. milers of all time.

While football players are known to date cheerleaders, women collegiate athletes are not known to chase quarterbacks. The radical feminists' hostility toward men is manifested in the abolition of sports in which men excel, such as wrestling.

Young women are ultimately hurt by this irrational feminist agenda. Girls are unwittingly pushed into higher risks of injury and hormonal-changing drugs.

Studies show that female competitors have a higher incidence of knee and head injuries compared to men. Torn anterior cruciate ligaments are crippling women athletes at an alarming rate, and last year decimated even the well-trained women's professional soccer league.

A 1999 study found that girls softball had twice the rate of serious head injuries as boys baseball. Last fall, the only girl in a junior football league in Chicago collapsed and died from a blood clot in the brain, apparently caused by a routine tackle days earlier.

It is unjust to limit the number of men in intercollegiate sports to the relative number of women in college. Discrimination should be based on opportunity rather than on equal results.

Just imagine what would happen if our military refused to enlist men unless an equal number of women enlisted.