There is good news out of Philadelphia this week for Title IX reformers. For the first time in its history, the Republican Party platform includes a statement on equality in sports. The statement reads: “We also support a reasonable approach to Title IX that seeks to expand opportunities for women without adversely affecting men’s teams.”
This statement in the GOP platform is significant because for so long, Title IX has been an issue of little concern. But due to the hard work of the IWF, the wrestling community, and a core group of citizen-activists, this critical issue has been placed onto the national agenda of the party that currently controls Congress.
For years, the Democratic Party has had a statement in their platform supporting the status quo, which has led to the destruction of too many men’s teams. The Democratic National Committee’s position paper on Title IX also accuses Republicans of consistently attacking Title IX. That accusation is specious in that Congress — Democrat or Republican — has done little to address Title IX in the past twenty years.
The slow turning of the tide of public opinion started with a small group of concerned coaches, athletes and the IWF in 1997. Out of our combined efforts grew a national grassroots organization, the National Coalition for Athletics Equity, and the wrestling world produced two other groups, Simply Common Sense and Americans Against Quotas.
The efforts of these groups have been so successful that it is rare to see a Title IX report on television or in print that does not at least make reference to the fact that there have been some unintended consequences in the implementation of Title IX. While no one advocates a reversal of girls’ fortunes, the media, the general public, and now a national political party are waking to the knowledge that Title IX has been poorly implemented, and that some male athletes have taken a hard hit.
Like planting a tree or a garden, only time and effort will produce rewards. For Title IX “freedom fighters,” we are just starting to see the blossoms that will become the fruit of our labors.