Study: women have more opportunities

Published 12:26 am Sunday, July 19, 2009

Women athletes have far more opportunities than men to earn scholarships and to participate in many college sports, according to a study by an organization which advocates Title IX reform.

The College Sports Council largely limited its analysis to 19 sports in which both men and women compete, such as basketball, volleyball and tennis. The study released Wednesday determined male high-school athletes in those gender-symmetric sports face longer odds and fewer total opportunities to land college scholarships.

‘‘We are trying to shine the light on a problem that exists where football frequently clouds the issue,’’ CSC chairman Eric Pearson said. ‘‘We’re not trying to tear down the women’s numbers. We just want it to be even and fair. We support both men and women playing sports. We want more sports. We want more athletes to play, both men and women, and the NCAA’s rules make that difficult.’’

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Critics contend the study conveniently eliminates football from its analysis and focuses too narrowly on raw numbers of athletes without considering a wealth of additional factors in the disparities, including the total money spent on scholarships.

Pearson hopes the CSC’s numbers will provide a fresh way of looking at the never-ending debate over sports gender equity by removing football from the discussion.

Because 28 percent of Division I schools don’t play football and only 12 percent of all NCAA members offer the maximum 85 football scholarships, Pearson said he doesn’t believe the sport’s ubiquity should justify fewer opportunities for men in other sports.

Using NCAA scholarship guidelines, the NCAA’s own sports participation reports and data from the National Federation of State High School Associations, the CSC determined that young men interested in playing most college sports face far longer odds than women of landing an NCAA scholarship — most dauntingly a 489-to-1 ratio of male high school volleyball players to scholarships, compared to 108-to-1 for women.