Title IX anniversary brings introspection from athletics

Illustration of Title IX scroll held over athletes
The Mossy Log Archives

This year is the fiftieth anniversary of Title IX, a law that provides legal protection against discrimination in a host of contexts, including the right for people of all genders to participate in any federally-financed educational program or activity. Title IX is the reason many women’s sports teams were created. It is legislation that ensures equality and thus should have been in place long before 1972. Athletics were an exclusively male experience going back to ancient Athens, and every inch of progress took a long time and lots of hard work.

As mandated by Title IX, the administration keeps sports funding about as equitable as possible, but misogyny does not need to be institutionalized to manifest itself. Sports teams are one of the most gendered spaces at LC, as no other program can prohibit a student from joining based on gender. 

 Brecklyn Beighle ’23, a captain of the women’s soccer team and track & field athlete, said that Title IX has brewed positive experiences on the track team where men and women practice together.

“All of the (track) coaches treated us super equally,” Beighle said. “I haven’t had a negative experience like that with track, it’s only just been positive.”

Rita Moore ’26 of the women’s golf team has not felt any gender discrimination from athletics while being at LC. 

“(All athletes on the mens and womens golf teams) are pretty close with each other,” Moore said. “Every time you see someone we always say hi and you know check in with each other.”

Beighle did note, however, that they have perceived gendered treatment at times during her experience in athletics. Multiple soccer players, including Beighle, attested to being told by trainers to stay out of the training room when football has practice, while the inverse has not been done. In addition, they said they were locked out of Pamplin Sports Center after a late night competition and had to call Campus Security to get in.

“There’s a lot of differences in how a men’s team is treated versus a labeled women’s team,” Beighle said.

When asked about these instances, Director of Physical Education and Athletics Mark Pietrok had little to say.

“We would disagree,” Pietrok said. “None of those complaints have been brought to us.” 

In terms of access to training, LC’s Sports Medicine Department said that this was due to football requiring a trainer on the field. There are only four trainers whose hours are 5:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., which is not sufficient to open the office during football’s practice.

The football team has a 76 player roster, the largest of any team, and their locker room reflects that. However, other team’s roster sizes are not reflected as well by their locker room.

“[The football team’s] locker room is so nice, it’s on the ground floor, when you walk in there’s this huge entrance,” Beighle said. “Ours is in this tiny little space and we barely have any space to fit.”

Additionally, the football locker room has a ping pong table, microwave and television purchased with their team budget. Aesthetically this seems unfair to many other athletes but team budgets are closely regulated to insure equity.

“The school provides an operating budget for the programs and each team has the opportunity to raise revenue to enhance their budgets,” Pietrok said. “We take a look at all the revenue that is raised and make sure it is equitable across the board.”

In regards to the football locker room, the extra money for embellishments came from that budget.

“If you were to look at our funding per student, (the football team is) never near the top,” Pietrok said. “They are normally in the middle of funding per student per sport.”

Title IX ensures that sports teams receive equitable funding, allowing for the differing equipment costs between sports. LC fully abides by this. Still, moderate per player funding with a 76 person roster provides a larger budget than if the roster were smaller, meaning that if a set percentage of each player’s funding was allocated to furnishings the team could purchase nicer things than some teams with higher per player funding. Additionally, Pietrok did not say where football placed in per team funding.

Oct. 12 was the Day of ChamPIOns, where teams encouraged donations and set goals for total money raised. On their respective Instagram accounts, the men’s baseball team disclosed that they raised $20,000, the men’s and women’s cross country and track teams raised $41,000, and the women’s basketball team announced that they had reached $4,000 and were hoping to get to $5,000. No other team announced their totals or goals through the platform.

This raises the question of whether some teams are incapable of raising desired funds.

“For the most part I wouldn’t say any of our teams are in that situation right now,” Pietrok said. “But I think you have to look at it in a kind of a bigger picture. Is the crew team going to Boston every year? No.”

Head Football Coach Joe Bushman says LC is extremely equitable, especially compared to his experience coaching at high schools.

“The school probably more than any I’ve ever been at does a nice job of supporting and encouraging everybody and giving everybody equal treatment,” Bushman said. “I think you’re barking up the wrong tree with that whole angle because it’s not apparent it’s not real.”

In addition to institutional concerns, Beighle said the attitude of the community can be offensive.

“There’s a lot of comments made from men’s sports teams about women in sports and how we’re just not as good as them or it’s not entertaining to watch,” Beighle said. “I’ve heard multiple comments from other men’s teams about women’s soccer — softball too and women’s basketball.”

The systemic nature of sexism is even more visible in professional sports than amateur ones. Many big name athletes have records of sexual misconduct that have not halted their professional careers. Twenty four accusations of sexual assault came out against Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson. Jason Kidd, current head coach of the Dallas Mavericks and 10-time National Basketball Association (NBA) All-Star, pleaded guilty to a charge of domestic abuse that involved punching his wife in the face in 2001. Even the late Kobe Bryant, a five-time NBA champion whose death in 2020 brought international mourning, was accused of rape in 2003. 

The highest-paid female athlete is the 19th highest paid athlete overall. The average Major League Baseball player makes $4,031,549 annually, while the average National Pro Fastpitch (an American professional softball league) player makes just $6,000. 

Men’s professional leagues make more money than women’s professional leagues, so male athletes get paid more. This points to systemic, cultural issues from both the way the industry is set up and consumers’ sports diets.

Although it focuses on equity due to legal requirements and ethical obligation, LC is a part of this broader tradition and can not forget it.

Subscribe to the Mossy Log Newsletter

Stay up to date with the goings-on at Lewis & Clark! Get the top stories or your favorite section delivered to your inbox whenever we release a new issue. 

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

AlphaOmega Captcha Classica  –  Enter Security Code