I love watching the Olympic Games and I’m anxious for them to begin, but there are thousands of people like me who will feel a twinge of both sadness and bitterness when watching it. In the world of men’s athletics, there’s a compelling story beneath the surface. Kathy DeBoer, Executive Director of the American Volleyball Coaches Association, said it best in this video:
During the Olympic Games, the athletes will be revered in the coverage as will the rise in athletic opportunities for women. Here’s an excerpt from a published article I wrote in 2007:
“In the 2000 Summer Olympics, the U.S. sent 338 men and 264 women to compete. In 2004, nearly equal numbers of men and women – an estimated 282 men and 263 women – represented the United States in 2004. Consider a Washington Post Olympic preview entitled “Female Athletes Continue to Gain Ground” written in April 2004. The article celebrated the equality in these numbers as evidence of progress for women, but the number of women competing was essentially unchanged. The so-called victory for women was the elimination of more than 50 male athletes from the U.S. roster.”
Our 2012 U.S. Olympic Team consists of 269 women and 261 men. In 12 years, the women’s roster added five female athletes (a 2% gain) compared to a loss of 77 men (a decrease of nearly 23%). In this NBC news story (July 11, 2012), USOC CEO Scott Blackmun credits this year’s gender ratio as being a “true testament to the impact of Title IX.”
Last year I was asked to write a brief op-ed for the Congressional Quarterly Researcher which summarizes the issue and provides insight into the problem. USA Wrestling posted it on their website.
I’ll be watching the Summer Games in awe and cheering the athletes along, but until all of America stands up and takes note of what’s taking place in collegiate (and now high school) athletics, one day Americans will be wondering why there are so few men representing our U.S. Olympic Team. What Does Title IX Mean to You?