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The feds have decided there’s no difference between men and women.
The result? There’s no men’s wrestling at Illinois State. None at Notre
Dame. None at Princeton. In a recent two-year period, 24 colleges and
universities have done away with men’s wrestling. Another 31 dropped
men’s golf. Men’s gymnastic teams on campus, numbering 133 in 1975, are
down to less than 30. The soccer players, too, are gone from Illinois
State.

Start with a bizarre assumption and you’re likely to get some crazy
results. Title IX regulations, grounded in the vision that men and
women, minus discrimination, would have identical interests, effectively
mandate that both sexes must participate in college athletics at equal
rates. Any and all
imbalances in sports activities between men and women, in short, are
viewed as discrimination, i.e., behavior that opens a campus to civil
rights lawsuits and the denial of federal funds.

Syracuse University has had a men’s wrestling team since 1922. Last
January, the university announced that it was pulling the plug on the
team, a team that was nationally ranked, and also dumping its men’s
gymnastics program. At UCLA, the men’s swimming team got the ax, a
program that produced 22 Olympic competitors. At Boston University,
Division 1 football was killed, ending a 91-year run. Overall, since
1994, colleges have eliminated hundreds of male sports, shut down some
22,000 male athletes on campus, all to meet the federal government’s
mandate for gender proportionality.

At Princeton, a group of alums, pledging $2.3 million in private
money, offered to reactivate the school’s wrestling program. No thanks,
said Princeton. Bringing back the program would unbalance the proportion
of male to female athletes, inviting Title IX sanctions. At Brown
University, following cuts in funding in four of its athletic programs,
two men’s teams and two women’s, a group of female athletes called in
the trial lawyers. Brown was guilty of discrimination under Title IX,
they argued, because its student body was 51 percent female and 38
percent of the school’s athletes were female. Both the federal district
and appeals courts agreed. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear
Brown’s appeal.

As generally happens with federal crusades, the solution ends up
becoming worse than the original problem. We start out by agreeing to
save the bald eagle and end up with a slew of federally-protected rats
and bugs. We begin by agreeing to do something about black-white
inequality and end up with just-off-the-boat Tongans entitled to pocket
a generous slice of federal set-asides. With college sports, what began
as a perfectly good intention, i.e., increasing women’s participation,
turned into a bean-counting system that sends male athletes packing
whenever there’s not enough women who want to play. Last June, for
instance, Ohio’s Miami University dropped men’s wrestling, soccer and
tennis while roster positions on the women’s teams at the school went
unfilled.

Next up on the federal agenda is “gender pay parity” among coaches
and the micro-management of gender ratios within each academic
discipline. Ignoring the fact that pay gaps between male and female
coaches are primarily the free market result of the public’s interests
(at Southern California, for example, men’s teams brought in $18.4
million last year while women’s teams pulled in $39,000), the experts in
victimhood at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission see the pay
disparities as a pure case of bias against “coaches of gender.”

To equalize sex ratios in classrooms, the Justice Department is
drafting regulations that will police the ratio of men to women in
nearly every realm of academia, regulations that promise to deal a blow
to the over-supply of men in engineering and the over-supply of women in
the arts. Bill Clinton, boasting of his administration’s “stepped up
Title IX enforcement,” says that discrimination in “access to advanced
math and science programs” is the next social engineering venture on the
federal agenda. At last count, the Office for Civil Rights had launched
investigations of more than 30 school districts where there’s
“underrepresentation” in gifted programs and in advanced math
and science classes.

What’s next? If the feds are serious about there being no difference
between men and women, what about some government action to bring a bit
more gender equality to hunting and the malls? In both, of course, the
lack of gender proportionality is just as great as it is in advanced
physics.

With college sports, it’s the government funds on campus that make
schools subject to the coercive dictates of regulators. With malls and
hunting, there’s also the clear existence of government funds, with
roads, licensing, police, sewers, etc. If the bureaucrats are right
about the sexes being no different, i.e., if women aren’t hard-wired to
prefer shopping over hunting, why not install federal equity regulators
at the mall entrances to police gender proportionality? No woman gets
admitted until a man shows up. The same with hunting. No man gets to go
into the woods until a woman shows up. It’s just like the gym at
Princeton. No man suits up until a woman decides she wants to play ball.



Ralph R. Reiland is an associate
professor of economics at Robert Morris College in Pittsburgh.

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