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William C. Altreuter
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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

College sports are so crooked they can't even get the easy sports right. Track, crew, fencing-- how could these things be as corrupt as hoops or football? Incredibly, schools manage this, by counting women wrong.

"Universities must demonstrate compliance with Title IX in at least one of three ways: by showing that the number of female athletes is in proportion to overall female enrollment, by demonstrating a history of expanding opportunities for women, or by proving that they are meeting the athletic interests and abilities of their female students." The problem is that D I football programs are big-- 100 students on the University of South Florida roster-- so the women's programs have to be big too, particularly because there are typically more women than men in most colleges and universities. In order to get their numbers up women runners are counted on both Cross Country and Track, and  women’s coaches are told to accept walk-ons  although this is discouraged or prohibited on men's teams.

There are, I am sure, a lot of sportswriters and other geniuses who will tell you that this is a Title IX problem. It is not. It is a problem with collegiate athletics, or, more accurately, a problem with where the emphasis is placed in college athletics. Colleges athletics should be, first and foremost, something that college students  participate in, either as athletes (ideally) or as fans. I'm not suggesting that anyone who walks on the court should be allowed to play matches as a member of the tennis team-- sport is about competition, after all, and merit should be what determines who plays and who starts. But if your athletics budget is so screwed up that you can't field a football team unless you count the men who practice with the women's fencing team as participants in women's athletics than maybe you should rethink how you are spending the money in your athletics budget.

I'm shouting at the ocean, I know, but c'mon. Wouldn't it make sense for a university-- even the University of South Florida, whatever the hell that is, to be a little more aware of what its mission is supposed to be?

| Comments:
"Wouldn't it make sense for a university-- even the University of South Florida, whatever the hell that is"

It's one of the largest universities in the country. It's a pretty solid center for medical research, particularly in cancer and Alzheimer's. It's also my alma mater.

No need to be a snob or a dick in order to make your point here, Bill. In fact, I rather think you undermine it a bit by doing so.

- spencer
 
Fair enough, Spencer. I apologize for suggesting that your school isn't all that it should be academically. I stand by my larger point, which is that college sports are a corrupting influence on institutions that should stand for something better than this. If all I knew about the University of South Florida was that it was a leading cancer and Alzheimer's research center I'd be impressed. Instead what I know is that it is so invested in its football team that it engages in disingenuous conduct in order to comply with Title IX. A rational for big-time college sport is that sport teaches valuable life lessons about working towards goals and delayed gratification, and a lot of other things. Unfortunately what actually gets taught when athletic departments do stuff like pretend that the long jumpers on the women's track team are also on cross-county, or that the men who work out with the women's fencing squad are actually on the team is that cheating is fine, and even expected. The students who see this sort of thing are being taught that cutting corners is acceptable. They are learning that bending the rules is the same as following the rules.

That's not what we we taught at my obscure D III college, by my cross-county coach. It's not what my daughter was taught at her D III women's college. Sports are great, but if sports dishonesty masks the good work a university does than that university has lost its way.

So, okay, sorry for the dis. Are you writing to your alumni office and complaining about the black eye your athletic department gave the University of South Florida?
 

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