Title IX anniversary inspires a look back at how bad we had it
If every memory is supposed to have a soundtrack, then my mental iPod definitely has been stuck in the shuffle mode. And stuck in the late 1960s and early '70s, helped in part by KPOI's "Nights with Alice Cooper" that makes the drive over Pali a bit psychedelic.
But those flashbacks can be triggered by random bits of music anywhere. (Buffalo Springfield songs being played in Sears? Go figure).
And thank you, HBO, for reawakening teen angst when showing "Love Story" this week. Not sure what is more depressing: the bad dialogue, bad acting, bad hair or bad clothes. What WERE we thinking?
Hairstyles and hiphuggers aside, the 1970 film was clearly dated on several fronts. Harvard was still an all-male institution and medicine was pretty much an all-boys club as well. How else to explain why a doctor wouldn't tell his female patient she had a terminal disease but would give the news to her husband instead, with a "You'll have to tell her, you know."
It was a sobering reminder of how limited women's choices were back then, from educational opportunities to knowing about health problems. Much has changed since "Love Story" -- Harvard is not only co-ed, but the Class of 2008 was the first where more women than men gained undergraduate admission -- just as much has changed since Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972, now known as the Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act, was passed.
Title IX turned 35 yesterday. It seems like last week that I spoke with the legislator, months before her death, for stories on the 30th anniversary.
An avid tennis player, Congresswoman Mink still was surprised that the legislation she co-authored had been so strongly applied to athletics. So much so that any mention of Title IX is automatically linked with women playing sports.
Mink had a personal relationship with discrimination, from racial to gender. Her original goal was to become a doctor, but women of her generation were not being admitted to medical school.
Imagine if she had become a doctor. What would the health of women's athletics be like?
I do question, however, why schools continue to drop sports. Some in the name of gender equity, others in the name of budget. James Madison, for instance, is cutting seven men's sports and three women's sports this summer, saying it is to comply with Title IX.
Unfortunately, it seems that it is an excuse for poor fiscal management. There is absolutely no reason that -- given the obscene amounts of television revenue generated by athletics -- sports have to be dropped.
If the NCAA is truly about college athletics then the organization should find a way, and soon, to stop cutting programs, men's and women's. Title IX is about stopping discrimination and now it's men's sports and unpopular women's sports that are the victims.
Discrimination was wrong then and it's wrong now.
There has to be a better way to figure out the scholarship percentages, especially when statistics show more women are attending college than men. There is the potential, however slight, that an athletic department could have enough influence on upper campus and thus manipulate admissions to favoring a higher percentage of males being admitted.
And that would be a very bad flashback to the '60s. Without the good soundtrack.