President Bush’s Commission on Equal Opportunity in Athletics, a 15-member panel in created June to reevaluate Title IX, will begin public hearings around the country next week – with the first meeting scheduled for next Tuesday and Wednesday in Atlanta, Georgia. The administration claims that the Commission on Opportunity in Athletics was formed to ensure that Title IX allows fairness for both sexes, while the Feminist Majority and other leading women’s groups are calling the commission the newest attempt to weaken a landmark federal law that eliminated gender discrimination in education.
“Title IX of the Education Act is the reason girls and women have made gains in athletics. Despite the overwhelming successes and support that Title IX enjoys, the Bush Administration has clearly created this commission to undermine Title IX and all the gains women have made in athletics,” stated Sharyn Tejani, Legal Director of the Feminist Majority Foundation.
Title IX, which was passed in 1972, requires federally-funded educational institutions to grant male and female students equal opportunities in academics, athletics, funding and resources. Critics claim that it has done so in the athletic realm at the expense of men’s sports. In 1971, only 294,015 girls participated in high school athletics. Today, over 2.7 million girls participate in high school athletics, an 847 percent increase, according to the Department of Education.
While co-chaired by former WNBA star Cynthia Cooper, the commission is stacked with representatives from NCAA Division I schools – many of which are still not in compliance with Title IX after 30 years – and those who believe that women are do not want to play sports, and thus should not be offered the opportunity, according to the Women and Sports Foundation.