Sometimes it is easy for communities to forget that federal laws, decided in faraway Washington, D.C., can have profound effects locally.
If theres any question, just check out Evans High School.
Last year, track star Roy Cheney was all set to take a bucketful of records from his Evans career to Tulane, where he had been offered a full athletic scholarship. But as the signing day approached, Tulane officials decided the scholarship no longer existed - theyd eliminated the mens track program to make room for more female sports.
Fortunately, Cheney managed to get noticed by Clemson, where he landed a similar scholarship.
Then, last week, Columbia County school trustees were debating the details of a plan to put new outdoor lights on the baseball field at Evans when the affect on girls sports was questioned. Gender equity rules mean you cant upgrade baseball without boosting softball, too - even if softball rarely uses lights.
Evans isnt alone in such incidents, but it has seemed especially snakebit lately by the federal Title IX law.
the intent of Title IX sounds noble: schools shouldnt discriminate against female athletes. Putting that goal into practice, however, is difficult simply because more males are interested in sports.
A commission appointed by U.S. Department of Education Secretary Rod Paige is making some recommendations on reforming Title IX, focusing on big-money college athletics. But Evans High could offer some enlightenment, too.
The field lights are a perfect example. Baseball boosters at the school wanted to work out a deal to improve lighting at their field. But automatically, the plans meant more money would be needed to likewise light the schools softball facilities - even though softball is played mostly during the generous daylight hours of summer.
(As a funny aside, Evans baseball booster Dan Armstrong points out that the softball field lights will primarily be switched on for junior varsity baseball!)
Its a good thing Title IX doesnt apply to private enterprises. Otherwise Columbia Countys Little League would be in trouble, too. While there were plenty of boys (and a few girls) lined up for recent baseball signups, there werent enough girls to field a single softball team.
What if Little League had to be canceled just because a parallel league didnt draw enough interest? Clearly, that would be punishing a sport for its popularity - turning the original intent of gender equity on its head.
Talk about Title IX reform is, as expected, raising fears that womens sports will be gutted. But reform clearly is needed if sports budgets are juggled just to fund political correctness.
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