Gender equality in athletics

By Heather Whitty | Copy Editor
Administrators were shocked this summer when notified that Marshfield was in violation of Title IX, an academic amendment that was passed to prohibit discrimination against anyone in any federally funded activity because of their gender. An anonymous complaint was filed against Marshfield for an unequal number of boys and girls participating in athletics, among many other Washington, Oregon and Idaho schools. The complaint was based solely on the ratio of boys to girls participating in sports, and had nothing to do with the opportunities available for either.

Is Marshfield really breaching Title IX? Many people might think so at first. If the number of student athletes and the number of students enrolled is the only thing taken into account, there may be some cause for concern. There might be some surprise, however, when taking into consideration whether students actually want to be in athletics.

Many girls in high school are just not interested in getting involved with athletics. This is not for lack of the school trying to recruit them to play; it is quite the opposite. From the very first day of freshman orientation, students are strongly encouraged to get involved, especially during assemblies. Posters are put up, meetings with promises of pizza are held to spur students into action and once an athlete, students are honored at assemblies by being called down in front of the school and applauded — both girls and boys teams.

A possible reason for this lack of enthusiasm could be the reputation of Marshfield’s girl’s athletics. While the volleyball and dance teams are successful, with the dance team bringing home a few state championships in recent years, several girls teams are not renowned for their fabulous records, including basketball and soccer. Last year, the girls varsity basketball team did not win a single league game. The same holds true for the girls varsity soccer team, except for their only win against Sheldon’s JV2 team.

It is not surprising that the Title IX case against Marshfield was recently dropped.  After all, the reason for a lack of female athletes is clearly a lack of interest. Marshfield simply cannot force girls to play sports; it should not be castigated for things that cannot be controlled. Equal opportunities are available for both boys and girls, however, girls do not want to utilize these opportunities. Therefore, Marshfield is completely within its bounds. In the future, further research should be employed before accusations are cast.