CSC: 5 of 6 adults oppose proportionality in college sports

Updated: May 13, 2011

By Leo Kocher

Another college wrestling program is on the chopping block? Brown University is seriously looking at terminating its program.
If it happens, not only does NCAA wrestling lose another team but it would leave only five Ivy League schools with wrestling, jeopardizing the Ivy League Tournament and other Ivy League wrestling programs as well. This is no time for the wrestling community to be confused about the reality of the situation we are in and about what needs to be done.
For more than a decade, the battle to preserve college wrestling programs has been engaged. The College Sports Council has carried this battle and has gained critical insights and important truths along the way.
On the other hand groups like the National Women’s Law Center and the Women’s Sports Foundation deny these truths and substitute myths. These denials are designed to sway the uninformed public, confuse the issue, and impede the progress of those trying to save intercollegiate sports opportunities.
As the reader will see below, the public is seeing through this smokescreen. The CSC has come to expect these myths from the pro-quota-in-sports advocates. But it is important that those who care about wrestling do not give these myths currency by accepting, or worse, repeating them.
Here are a few which, when repeated by people in the wrestling community, really undermine the effort to save wrestling.
Myth # 1: Football and Basketball are the problem
This myth is a favorite among those who want to draw attention away from the fact that gender quotas, or proportionality, which is enshrined in today’s Title IX federal law, is what inexorably drives schools to destroy intercollegiate athletic opportunities.
“Its football’s fault” is also one of the easiest myths to knock down. Just over half of NCAA schools have football. The number of teams that have been dropped at colleges that do not have football (like wrestling this year at University of North Carolina, Greensboro) is in the hundreds.
Gender-quota advocates like to highlight those big-time Division I football programs as excessive The top 68 football teams in the top six conferences averaged $15.8 million in profits and paid for their women’s and men’s teams which only lose money. The problem is not football, not basketball, not even money. The problem is proportionality.

Myth #2: “We cannot do anything about Title IX. We only get criticized and our lives are made more difficult when we talk about reforming Title IX.”
The first part is flat-out wrong and something very effective is being done about proportionality. A recent national poll by highly-regarded Rasmussen shows that the nation is turning specifically against proportionality in college athletics. Rasmussen reports:
“With women comprising 57 percent of college students today, just 13 percent of adults think the federal government should require that each college have an appropriate number of women athletes to ensure that 57 percent of college athletes overall are women. Most adults (64 percent) oppose such a requirement, while another 23 percent are undecided about it.”
Just to be clear, this national poll tells us that five of six adults who have an opinion on the matter oppose proportionality in collegiate sports! It is a pretty good bet that the remaining 23 percent who are undecided will, once they understand the issue, break strongly against proportionality as well.
This is significant evidence that the College Sports Council’s continuous media presence and public education campaign is moving public opinion big time. And although politicians are frequently the last to figure it out, they will eventually read these polls and run to the front of the parade. Regarding the rest of this myth, how does not being criticized and avoiding difficulties take precedence over, or in any way contributes to, saving collegiate wrestling opportunities?
That is a defeatist and self-serving attitude not worthy of our sport. Title IX will be reformed because wrestling cannot survive if it is not. The only question is: how long will wrestling and other male sports be allowed to get hammered before it gets done?

Myth # 3: “It’s not gender quotas. It is greedy/lazy administrators, uneducated coaches, and lack of alumni support. We should just focus on things we can control”
Again the falsehood is “it’s not gender quotas.” The rest just helps with that denial. This is like the joke about the man who was looking on the ground for his lost quarter. He was asked where he dropped the coin and he pointed to a spot 100 feet away. When asked why he was looking where he was, he replied “because the light is so much better here.” Organizing alumni support and educating coaches are good things, but they will not save wrestling and other sports from proportionality.
The problem has been apparent since the 1990s. It is proportionality. John Stossel exposed it on ABC 20/20, Bob Simon exposed it on CBS 60 Minutes, and super-star author/wrestler John Irving irrefutably defined it in the New York Times. The only thing left is for those who want to solve the problem to work to get it done.
Thomas Paine, a hero in America’s struggle for independence, coined the phrase, “Lead, follow, or get out of the way.”
The myths propagated by quota-in-sports advocates should not be adopted by us in the wrestling community. Those that do are not leading — and not following — are just in the way.

(The College Sports Council is a Washington D.C.-based coalition of alumni, coaches, athletes, parents and fans. It is the leading organization working for Title IX reform.)