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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

still exists.

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.

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