Tuesday, February 15, 2005

One More Reason to Support Griffith

I thought Thomas Griffith, a BYU General Counsel that has been nominated by President Bush to the DC Court of Appeals, was awfully dumb to let his law license expire. It caused a hold up on his confirmation in the Senate. But I read about some comments he made (blogged elsewhere) that really made me reconsider him. Now I read this tidbit at the end of a Tribune article and I think he may have something going for him: common sense. Here is what the article said.

"Griffith has also been criticized for opposing a portion of a federal law that would give women opportunities in school athletics roughly proportionate to their population."

It sounds like Griffith was talking about Title IX. This is a piece of legislation with good intentions that just didn't make sense in practice. As you probably know, Title IX was supposed to make sure that if 60% of your college or university student body was female, then 60% of your student athletes would be female. No problem, right? Well, it turned out that football was a problem. Football squads had a zillion people with no counterbalancing female team. Thus, a lot of other men's sports got the axe to preserve the ratios. Men's gymnastics programs are harder to find these days. Gone are many wrestling teams. New womens sports were added.

So we built ratios that helped many women get into athletic programs (and be eligible for scholarships) than otherwise would have been--that is great. But it had to come at the expense of the men. It turns out that there is a higher percentage of men that want to participate in sports and receive sports scholarships than women. Instead of using the ratios based on interest and desire to participate, we based the ratios on raw gender percentages. This has resulted in an over-representation of women in college athletics compared to their gender's desire to participate.

At BYU, where federal money is less of an issue, some men's sports dried up anyway in part due to the lack of nearby schools against which to compete. We had a male and female club soccer team. Both wanted to become an "official" sport at the university. The men's team was winning national competitions against other club and college teams. But there could be no scholarships for the men. The women were able to become an official team and have done well in their own right.

I suppose the point is that decision about funding would wisely take into account more than the simple male/female ratio at a school. If this is the sort of thing Griffith advocates, then it is hard to see where the "critici[sm]" comes from.

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