50 years after Title IX, and there is still inequality.
By Madison Sciba
In celebration of National Girls and Women in Sports Day on February 3rd, SMC athletics honored women athletes during the women’s basketball game. With catered Chipotle and matching Title IX t-shirts, the Gaels were spotlighted during the halftime break. With this being the 50th anniversary of such an important piece of legislation, it seems strange how the only people to attend the celebration were the female athletes.
National Girls and Women in Sports Day celebrates the passing of Title IX in 1972. According to the US Department of Justice website, in relation to athletics, Title IX states that “No person shall on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, be treated differently from another person, or otherwise be discriminated against in any interscholastic, intercollegiate, club or intramural athletics offered by a recipient, and no recipient shall provide such athletics separately on such basis.”
Not only was the celebration held on a day during JanTerm break when practically no one was on campus except athletics, but the UCU was empty except for the women’s teams who attended. The female teams were told to attend and they would be honored, yet why weren’t the men’s teams required to attend in support? Seemingly the whole point of Title IX is so that women and men get equal opportunities in athletics. However, there is a severe lack of support for women’s teams.
For example, the UCU is packed for men’s basketball games, yet there are always open seats at women’s basketball games. Everyone at SMC knows about the men’s rugby team, which is a club sport, yet a lot of people do not know that there is a women’s rowing team which is one of the women’s D1 sports. The school's Instagram account advertises every men's basketball game and event related to men's basketball. Yet there is rarely a mention of women’s volleyball, soccer, softball, rowing, etc.
So the question is: why is there so much more support for men’s sports than women? Saint Mary’s puts such an emphasis on the star basketball team and the best rugby team in the country, yet, that does not mean those teams deserve way more support than the women’s rowing team. Even some of the men’s teams get overlooked, like the men’s golf team. Or the men’s and women’s tennis, or men’s and women’s cross country/track and field teams. Is it just because these teams aren’t featured on ESPN? Is it because they are not nationally recognized? Or is it just because they just don’t make money?
It all has to do with money. Though it cannot be officially recorded, the school justifies the imbalance because men’s basketball and rugby are supposedly HUGE money-makers for SMC. There aren’t a lot of people who are invested in collegiate rowing and it is not a well-followed sport in the US, so the rowing team doesn’t bring in a lot of sponsors and donations. However, the men’s baseball team is with a recent $1 million donation to the baseball program, which will go to a brand new stadium.
No matter how much legislation is passed, it is clear that people prefer to support men’s sports rather than women’s, and it all comes down to money. How much Saint Mary’s can profit off the team and their success. How many supporters the team gets. You can easily sell tickets to soccer, basketball, and baseball games, but you can’t make a lot of money by selling tickets to rowing races, cross country meets, or tennis matches. All this makes it clear that inequality in athletics is evident at Saint Mary’s even in 2022.
Image from the Saint Mary’s Website. From the Title IX celebration on Feb. 3rd.
Image source: https://www.stmarys-ca.edu/celebrating-womens-history-month-50-years-of-title-ix-at-saint-mary%E2%80%99s
Source: US Department of Justice https://www.justice.gov/crt/title-ix#10.%C2%A0%20Athletics%20(%C3%AF%C2%BD%C2%A7%20__.450)
Melanie Moyer '22,