NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Title IX Gender Equity Shrinks Men's Sports

February 1, 1998

Under the banner of gender-equality, Title IX of the Civil Rights Act is playing havoc with men's college sports programs, say critics. Women's rights activists contend that women's sports should get just as much money and attention as men's sports, and federal courts have interpreted the law to require it.

The problem is that women's sports don't draw as many fans and fewer women desire to participate than men. With lower levels of women participants, equality in sports can only be achieved by dropping men's programs.

  • A survey by the National Collegiate Athletic Association found colleges have axed 200 men's teams in recent years, with 17,000 slots lost.
  • Gymnastic teams -- which numbered 133 as recently as 1975 -- are down to 32.
  • In questionnaires to prospective Brown University students, 50 percent of the men but only 30 percent of the women expressed interest in trying out for athletics.
  • Intramural sports are open to all at Brown, but eight times as many men elect to take part as women.

Women at Vassar College participate in varsity sports at a rate 13 percent lower than do men, even though Vassar was a women's college until 1969.

The push for equality in sports has been particularly devastating for the California State University system. Spurred by a lawsuit filed by the National Organization for Women, Cal State adopted a quota system for varsity sports participation in 1993.

Since then various campuses have experienced massive cuts in men's sports. Some dropped men's baseball, soccer, swimming and volleyball. Others have been forced to cancel wrestling. Six campuses have had to abandon football.

Source: Walter Olsen (Manhattan Institute), "Title IX From Outer Space," Reason magazine, February 1998.


Browse more articles on Government Issues