In actuality, between 1981-2005 men's teams per school dropped 17 percent while women's teams rose by 34 percent. The reason is this: the proportional participation clause in Title IX, upheld by Duncan's own department, states that if the number of female athletes is not "proportional" to the number of women enrolled at an institution then the school is technically "discriminating."
This little line may be small enough for Duncan to forget, but it's significant enough to have schools scared silly. Colleges frequently end up cutting men's teams -- James Madison University alone cut ten teams in 2007, seven of which were male -- in order to balance the gender scales, meaning men's athletics have become dependent on women's interest and participation.
The problem with anti-discrimination legislation like Title IX is not with its intentions. The trouble is that the goal posts keep moving. It's not longer sufficient to have gender equality -- now feminists are seeking gender parity. Organizations like the AAUW fail to accept that men and women are different, and that they may choose to participate in different activities.
That is it in a nutshell. The paper linked in the article (Title IX and Athletics: A Primer (2008)) made some interesting points:
Title IX should focus on the overall availability of opportunities to accommodate interest, not on the selections of those opportunities by one sex or the other. Ironically, Title IX policy ignores actual interest levels and capabilities of either sex as determining factors in whether the interests and abilities of students have been met.
A variety of research points to lower interest in sports, on a variety of levels, among girls compared to boys. Girls’ participation rates and behaviors in all types of physical activity consistently lag behind those of boys. Boys are more likely to participate on sports teams than girls.24 Girls also join organized sports at later ages than boys and drop out earlier.
Many Title IX advocates say, “If you build it, they will come.” But that hasn’t proved true. When Brown University was sued in 1992 under Title IX, the varsity female teams at the university had more than 80 unfilled slots. The school had built it, but the women didn’t come. Further, coaches of female teams have talked on camera about their difficulty in keeping female athletes who don’t make the travel squad, even when they are receiving some financial aid. Coaches have also talked about their difficulty in filling the minimum number of positions desired by the athletic director to achieve proportionality, often because the minimum demands more players than the sport itself requires.
Men’s teams, on the other hand, are often no longer allowed to keep any of the numerous men seeking walk-on positions. Further, many schools have capped the number of men on team rosters, usually at numbers far lower than a competitive program needs.
Of course interest is important, that should be common sense as Title IX shouldn't be used to reduce possibilities, but to create new ones. The report points to other different interests:
U.S. Department of Education data show that women are more likely than men to participate in various afterschool activities, except for athletics.43 Among high school sophomores, 55% of men, compared to 42.5% of women, competed in interscholastic athletics.
But in other activities, women comprise the majority:
9.9% of women, compared to 6.8% of men, participate in academic clubs.
19.2% of women, compared to 8.1% of men, participate in cheerleading and drill team.
10.9% of women, compared to 8.1% of men, participate in hobby clubs.
26.8% of women, compared to 16.3% of men, participate in music programs.
9.1% of women, compared to 7.6% of men, participate in vocational clubs.
If the same strict proportionality standards applied to these extracurricular activities, women would likely face the same roster caps and program cuts that men face in athletics.
The last part people, the original article had a similar argument:
the AAUW and other feminist outlets would like to see Title IX-like legislation used to tackle disparities in academics, namely the "crisis" of women in math and science. In short, they want Congress to legislate parity in these disciplines, once again ignoring the real and important differences that exist between the genders. (Of course, this is always one-sided. I have yet to see the AAUW argue for more male English or Psychology majors. Nor have I seen any outrage about the shortage of male nurses.)
There is an obvious double standard here as inequality seems to be defined by the lack of female participants, yet never by the lack of male ones.
On with some more data:
across the board, opportunities for women were increasing, while opportunities for men were decreasing. From 1981 to 2005, male athletes per school declined 6%, and men’s teams per school dropped 17%. Meanwhile, female athletes per school rose 34%, and women’s teams per school rose 34%.52 The total number of women’s teams has exceeded the number of men’s teams since 1995 [...] Every male sport, with the exception of baseball, has decreased or remained static. Non-revenue sports such as wrestling, tennis, and gymnastics have been the hardest hit. [...] men’s gymnastics is practically extinct, with fewer than 20 varsity programs left in the country.
The discussion on this issue, or the huge BUT usually centers around football. As the fixation on football teams leads to less resources. Of course a lack of diversity is certainly not good. Here is what the report says about football:
when the resources are invested to create a competitive program, football helps women. A Social Science Quarterly article by Patrick James Rishe concluded that women’s sports at schools with big football programs fared better than women’s sports at schools with smaller football programs. While Rishe’s research does verify what the quota proponents tell us—expenditures are higher for football players than for any other sport—the research also calculates that where the football expenditures are highest, so, too, are the expenditures on female athletes.
In another study by Donald E. Agthe and R. Bruce Billings for the Journal of Sport Management, the authors concluded that football profits were a significant influence on achieving financial gender equity in athletic departments.
The Chronicle of Higher Education found a similar pattern when it examined Division I schools with and without football programs:
While women’s sports are clearly on the rise across the board, the rate of growth varies widely among the different kinds of colleges in Division I. Wealthy sports programs can subsidize new opportunities and greater spending for women, but those without revenue-producing football and basketball teams lag. And the gap between the haves and the have-nots is widening.
[...] Football is not the issue causing schools to drop men’s sports. The Title IX gender quota drives schools to drop men’s programs despite the schools’ best efforts and fervent wishes for keeping all teams intact. Even when there is no football team to blame, men still suffer. That is not equal opportunity.
The College Sports Council study shows that even football has seen a decline in the Title IX era. As shown in Figure 3, the percentage of NCAA member schools with football teams has declined since 1980.
Surely some food for thought. Damn, I really suck at writing that last thoughtful line.