Title IX: Equally funded but not equally respected

By Nader Ihmoud

In light of Title IX’s 40th anniversary, an examination of women’s increased stature in sports seems more than appropriate. Title IX was passed in 1972, giving equal funding to both women and men in any educational program or activity that receives federal money.

A majority of Americans believe it is only for sports, but the truth of the matter is that athletics is only one of 10 programs the act addresses.

According to the American Association of University Women, female participation in high school sports increased 940 percent between 1972–2008, and the number of women playing in National Collegiate Athletic Association sports has increased 451 percent.

We can argue about politics and say the financial support does not match the increase in numbers, but that is not what I am here to discuss.

Many people in modern sports won’t oppose women getting the same amount of funding as men because it’s not politically correct. For those closeted sexists living in my city, take this into consideration: If we based athletic funding on success, women would be more deserving than their counterparts in some instances.

During the two semesters I have been working at The Chronicle, I have been fortunate enough to cover collegiate sports, including both men’s and women’s basketball. To be quite frank, the Chicago-area women’s teams have outshone the men. Look at DePaul University, for example. Its women’s team is ranked in the top 25 in the nation, while the men’s team struggles to grab its 12th win. The men of DePaul currently have 11 wins, the most since the 2007–2008 season and are on a seven-game losing streak. For a team that used to be at the highest level of NCAA men’s basketball, its record during the past few decades has been poor.

The Lady Blue Demons, on the other hand, have won at least 20 games every season since the 2003–2004 campaign. This season has yet to come to an end, and they already have hit 20 wins. The team is also in the hunt for the NCAA tournament berth as it closes out its season against conference opponents.

This may prove little to sexists, but to all open-minded readers: Are we seeing the birth of something beautiful? We are hitting a stride where women’s sports are becoming just as entertaining—if not more so—as men’s.

For the purists out there, no one plays basketball with more respect for the game than some women do. They do what their coaches ask of them, there is no pouting or showmanship and there’s definitely not just one star on the court surrounded by mediocrity. Title IX has paved the way for women to reach the same level in athletics as men. Our society continues to hold them back in many ways, but women have continued to grow in sports since Title IX was passed.

Who is to say the WNBA will not have the same backing as the NBA come 2025? It probably won’t, but the thought of two successful professional basketball associations makes my sports senses tingle. Let’s be realistic, though: It may take longer than 12 years for people to walk into the Allstate Arena excited about a Chicago Sky game.

I admit, I have never attended a WNBA game, and it would be difficult to dish out hard-earned dough for the Sky when Derrick Rose is playing across town. Still, that is not a worthy excuse. It should start with me. But wouldn’t it be fun to see DePaul’s men’s and women’s teams square off for s—s and giggles just to see which one is better? The answer is simple: You will have to wait and see, just like the rest of us.