Wome In College Sports Essay, Research Paper
Are Things Equal Between The Sexes In College Sports?
“Monday night football won’t be shown this week, instead women’s field
hockey will be aired.” Monday night football has been a long lasting American
pastime and a change like this would tend to really shock and upset millions of
dedicated football fans. This group, made up of mostly men gather round the
tube each week for a chance to watch men running around a field carrying a ball
and running into each other. The situation I stated earlier probably won’t
happen, at least not in the near future. Men’s sports still seem to dominate,
and in order to allow this to be changed, certain steps must be taken. First of
all, the situation needs to be addressed as a serious problem, then those people
affected need to be determined. Next, the cause of the problem needs to be
addressed and finally, it is time to think of solutions.
So, first of all, is there really a problem? Why does it matter that
men get all the attention in sports? That’s the way it has been for hundreds of
years dating back to the first Olympics. But then again why should men get all
the attention, women work just as hard as men at their sports, why not give them
some credit? Men and women are treated differently in sports ranging from the
size of budgets, the number of scholarships given, and in how many athletes are
participating in sports.
Men’s athletic budgets are without a doubt a lot higher than women’s
athletic budgets. On average men’s athletic budgets are nearly five times that
of women’s (Moline 18). An example of this is at schools that offer women’s
sports of field hockey and volleyball that have budgets less than 20% of that
which is allocated for men’s sports (Hanmer 13). Overall operating funds for
women’s sports are about three times that of men’s (Moline 18). Funding for
individual sports is different but when all added together men receive a lot
more money for their sports than women.
Another difference between men’s and women’s sports is the number of
athletic scholarships given to athletes of differing sexes. Male athletes, as a
whole, receive twice the number of scholarships that women athletes receive
(Moline 18). In a survey conducted by the NCAA( national collegiate athletic
association) of 253 division 1 schools, athletic scholarship funding was 69.5%
for men and 30.5% for women. The actual average amount of money given for
scholarships was $849,130 for men and $372,800 for women (Farrey C1). In 1992,
division 1 schools with football teams were allowed to offer 92 scholarships per
season (Farrey C1). This exceeds any other sport, men or women’s, in the number
of scholarships available. When everything is added together male athletes
receive more scholarship money than female athletes. This is another example
of the inequality between the sexes.
Yet another difference between men and women’s collegiate sports is the
number of participants. The ratio of men to women at most colleges is usually
one to one, but sports participation is usually two to one favoring men (Tarkan
25). Men’s athletic teams are generally bigger than women’s teams. This could
be attributed to the bigger budgets and more scholarships that would allow men’s
teams to be larger. This two to one ratio shows that participation is not equal
and therefore women are discriminated against.
These examples of inequality in college sports shows that there is a
problem and it has been a problem for some time. Women have less money budgeted
for their sports, less scholarship money, and there are a lot fewer female
athletes than male athletes. In 1975, a girl in Colorado had to use the court
system in order to be allowed to practice and play with a men’s team. This was
done since there was no available women’s team. (Hanmer 96). Having to go to
court, again shows that a problem does exist, and even though it is getting
better, with the number of female athletes rising, the problem of inequality
Now that it is known that a problem exists, the next step in solving
the problem is to figure out who is affected by sexual discrimination in sports.
Contrary to popular belief, female athletes are not the only people affected by
sexual discrimination. Male athletes, female athletes, and society are all
harmed by sexual discrimination in sports.
First of all, the most noticed and the biggest group of people that have
brought this problem to everyone’s attention is the female athlete. Female
athletes have struggled for years to become men’s equals in many areas,
including athletics. Even though the female role in sports has grown, men still
receive most of the glory. Television stations that air sporting events
generally air male sports such as football and basketball. The sports that are
shown on television receive money from the television station. CBS has paid
over 1.7 billion dollars to broadcast the men’s NCAA basketball tournament until
2002(Chad 22). Some of this money goes to each team playing in the tournament.
Female sport’s teams don’t have the opportunity to receive money from television
because the television stations don’t want to air their games. Another way that
women are harmed by sexual discrimination is in the amounts of money budgeted to
keep their sports going. As I stated earlier, men’s sports are budged an
average of five times more than women. Male sports seem to take everything away
from female sports, but this is not necessarily true.
Male athletes are also affected by sexual discrimination in sports. As
opportunities are gradually getting better for female athletes, something must
give in order to make these opportunities available. These things are usually
men’s athletics. In some instances men’s sporting teams have been limited or
totally cut from a school’s athletic program in order to make room for more
female teams. At the University of Illinois, the men’s swimming and diving
team was cut in order to meet the title ix equality requirements. Members of
this team filed a lawsuit claiming reverse discrimination, but lost(Briggs B4).
Another example of male athletes being harmed is at Yale. Water polo and
wrestling teams were dropped in 1991 and the track and cross country teams had
limits placed to control the numbers of participants(Frankel ). Though title ix
was issued to stop discrimination, it is causing some men’s sports to be harmed.
Now that both sexes of athletes have been addressed, who else could be
harmed by sexual discrimination? The answer to that question is society.
Everyone that pays taxes is affected. A portion of the taxes that everyone pays
goes toward education. Some of the money given to schools through taxes goes
toward the school’s athletic program. As schools try to equal things out
between men’s and women’s sports, more money will have to be spent. This rise
in athletic costs could eventually lead to a raise in taxes in order to allow
state schools to continue having sports programs. Another possible affect is
the rise in a school’s tuition. Parents wishing to send their children to
college could face a higher tuition resulting from the money it takes to add
women’s sports. Parents with athletically gifted male children could find it
harder for their children to receive athletic scholarships, as more scholarships
are given to girls.
The people that are affected by sexual discrimination, including female
athletes, male athletes, and society, are affected in different ways. Each
group faces hardships caused by sexual discrimination. Now that it is known who
is affected by sexual discrimination in sports, the next step to is to learn
what causes it. Sexual discrimination is caused by many things that have been
around for many years. The three main things that cause sexual discrimination
in sports are football, television, and tradition. These three reasons all are
causes to sexual discrimination.
Football is a widely appreciated and closely watched sport in America.
Football alone is the major cause for the wide gap between equality in men’s and
women’s sports. There is no female sports that is comparable to football
(Becker 70). Football teams usually cost the most to run of any sport at a
college (Gullenberg F5). This is partly due to the large number of players on a
team. Numbers can range from 75 to 125 players per team (Tarkan 26). The
University of Nebraska took 132 players to the Orange Bowl in 1994 (Burk 93).
Some schools are known to put up their football teams in nice hotels before home
games, two to a room, while women are bunked four to a room while out of
town(Tarkan 27). Football players daily food allowances can average $25 for
dinner and $15 for breakfast, while women receive only an $11 total daily
allowance. Another luxury of being a college football player is the mode of
transportation. While female sports and most male sports rely on busses and
vans, the football team is flying. Football games also tend to draw the biggest
crowds. For example, at the University of Iowa, home football games can bring
in crowds in excess of seventy thousand screaming football fans. The big public
response that football receives only causes the sport to grow. ABC’s sports
commentator, Keith Jackson states, ” I don’t care for it. There’s too much
emphasis on one game at the expense of others.” Football dominates the airwaves
during the season with sometimes three or four college games shown each weekend.
Football is a big cause in the sexual discrimination problem that exists in
sports today, but it’s not the only cause.
Another cause for sexual discrimination in sports is the television and
other forms of media. As I stated earlier, football games are shown every
weekend during the season with hardly any counter balance of women’s games shown.
The two teams that played in the Fiesta Bowl split $17 million which is about
$500,000 more than any other bowl game (Kirkpatrick 82). Basketball season, with
numerous games shown every weekend, follows the football season. Even with
women’s basketball getting some television time, it still doesn’t compare to the
amount of air time men’s basketball gets. During the NCAA championship, ESPN
shows men’s basketball for nine straight days. CBS broadcasts nearly 66 hours
of championship basketball over a 19 day span (Chad 23). This is compared to the
one full day allowed for women’s NCAA championship basketball (Baker 38). Other
sports that are aired by CBS are the College World Series, the NCAA outdoor
track and field championship, and NCAA women’s gymnastics. The big time sports,
football and basketball, bring in the biggest sponsors which is how a television
network makes its money. Temple University spent $500,000 on advertising it’s
men’s sports teams while only spending $945 total for women’s advertising
(Bedell 5B). The money a team receives to be on television also adds to the
budget differences between men’s and women’s sports.
Tradition also plays a role in the cause of sexual discrimination in
sports. For years, male sporting events have been very exciting and popular.
Today, with men generally controlling what is shown on television, male
spectator sports still reign (Nelson 78). Male sports are what people grew up
watching and appreciating. The excitement that comes in watching these
competitions has kept them popular. As women’s sports grow, it is hard for
people to change their ways and switch over to watch field hockey or volleyball
instead of the high intensity game of football. As exciting as these sports may
be, people are not always so open to change. Tradition can be a very strong
cause to sexual discrimination in sports.
These causes; football, television, and tradition, all lead to sexual
discrimination in sports. Now that the causes have been identified, it is now
possible to start thinking of solution that will help the situation improve.
Solutions to this problem of sexual discrimination in sports do exist. Limiting
football spending, offering more scholarships for women, and adding more women’s
sports programs are all possible solutions to this problem.
As stated earlier, football is a major contributor to the problem of
sexual inequality in sports. Limiting the amount of money spent on football
would free up a lot of money for other sports. If there was a national limit on
the number of football scholarships allowed, this would ensure that no one team
would have an advantage over another. The limiting of scholarships would free
up money to a school’s athletic program as well as bring the overall number of
scholarships closer to the number given to female athletes. If the number of
football players is reduced, this would also free up lots of money that would
have been spent on helmets, uniforms, expensive knee surgeries, food, and
assistant coaches. It would also mean fewer tutors and counselors, because of
the large number of academically deficient athletes football tends to include
(Farrey C2). According to NCAA president Judy Sweet, “If you took football
totally out of the mix, the number of scholarships for men and women would be
equal-maybe even more for women.” An argument to this situation is that
football programs bring in lots of revenue that goes to help athletic programs.
This is not necessarily true. Nearly 80% of all football teams lose money(Burk
93). There are too many players on football teams and these excess players use
up money. Limiting the football budget and distributing the money elsewhere is
a good solution, but it has it’s disadvantages as well.
Another possible solution to the problem is to offer the same number of
scholarships to male athletes and female athletes. As stated earlier, men
receive more than double the amount of scholarship money than women. Doing this
would be a big step towards equality between men’s and women’s sports. This
solution also has a disadvantage, the cost. Scholarships cost money and adding
scholarships gets to be rather expensive. This would be a good solution, if not
for the high cost.
Another possible solution is to add more women’s teams to a school’s
athletic program. This would be a good solution since most schools offer more
men’s sports than women’s sports. In the Big Ten Conference, they voted to
bring intercollegiate sports to a two to three ratio of women to men (Moline 18).
Since 1992, over 800 athletic teams for women have been added to colleges
across the country (Tarkan 26). This has helped in closing the gap between the
number of men’s and women’s sports teams offered. However, this is not a
solution without drawbacks. In order to bring this ratio closer, men’s teams
would have to be cut or additional funding would have to come from somewhere
else. In Illinois, a bill is being passed that would allow colleges to receive
more funding for athletics (Tarkan 26). This would allow more women’s teams to
be added without hurting men’s teams. This is a good start, but in most states
funding for this solution makes it less attractive.
Overall, money seems to be the biggest problem when it comes to a good
solution to the problem of sexual discrimination in sports. The solutions of
cutting back at football funding, giving equal number of scholarships, and
adding women’s teams, all have their drawbacks. It seems that none of these
solutions alone will solve the problem. I think a combination of all of these
solutions is the best solution to this problem.
Lack of money was the drawback to the solutions of adding scholarships
and more sports for women. These solutions are good, but a source of money is
needed to allow these to be practical solutions. The money for these solutions
could come from football. Football has far more money budgeted than any other
sport at a college. As I stated earlier football doesn’t necessarily make money
and therefore they shouldn’t need to spend as much as they do. If football
funding helped subsidize new women’s teams, it would allow more women’s teams to
be created. This would help bring the number of men’s and women’s sports to a
closer ratio, as well as bring the participation of male and female athletes to
a closer proportion. If football programs were limited to a smaller number of
scholarships, those extra scholarships could be distributed to female athletes
in order to equalize up the number of scholarships given to male and female
This combination of cutting back at football funding and adding more
scholarships and sports for women seems to be the best solution to the problem
of sexual discrimination in sports. Even though this may not make things
totally equal, it does make things better. Hopefully, someday men and women
will be considered equals in all aspects of life, including sports. Until then,
we must do our best to be as fair as possible.