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PostWatch: An irregular correction to the Washington Post

Brought to you by Christopher Rake


Saturday, February 08, 2003
12:43 PM

Now I'm going to sound a little ignorant.. Just now, you say?

My favorite Kids' Post entry was a few months back when they explained how a typical news story is written. Nice clear explanations of the classic pyramid structure, how the the most important information is in the lede and nearer the top, etc. Memo never passed to Post staff.

But yesterday there was a Title IX item. Now my ignorance refers to writer Fred Bowen. I don't know if he's an adult or a talented kid--and I don't mean that as an insult, it's just that the style of the piece is very simple and perhaps appropriate for younger readers. But Bowen takes an opinion and portrays it as fact, as often happens in Title IX disputes.

He makes this mistake on his way to the punchline, summarized in the hed Support Title IX? Then Watch Girls' Games. Bowens says it's time to face the fact that women's sports generally don't enjoy the same level of fan support, and if you're complaining about the plight of female athletes you might consider actually supporting them. Good point. But there's this:
But some people want to change Title IX. Why? They say that there are problems with the law. You see, Title IX says that the percentage of college athletic scholarships given to men or women should be roughly equal to the percentages of men and women at the school. These days, more girls go to college than boys, so more and more athletic scholarships are going to girls.

So what's the problem? That sounds fair.

Fred! Equal opportunity, yes; guaranteed equal outcome, no.
The big problem is football. Big-time college football gobbles up lots of scholarships. At some schools, as many as 85. No women's sport uses that many scholarships. Some schools decide to take away scholarships from "minor" men's sports such as wrestling, gymnastics, swimming and even baseball. That makes the number of men's and women's scholarships more even. But it makes the men on the teams who lose scholarships really mad.

The solution for the football problem, it seems to me, is simple. Schools should give out fewer football scholarships. If pro football teams can play a longer season with about 50 players, I don't see why college football teams need more than 50 to 60 players on scholarship.


Well this is the typical gross over-simplification. The large size of football teams does make the balancing act more difficult, but those large teams also reflect intense interest in competing in and watching these teams, and of course the larger schools with the successful football programs do a better job of supporting women's sports. Bowen must have been copied on some of those National Women's Law Center memos.

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