More than a handful of sports observers have commented on a looming potential disaster for women’s sports at the collegiate – – and possibly at the high school – – level(s). Predicting dark days ahead for women’s sports is not something novel for 2021; what is different this time around is the identified source of the threat:
- An Executive Order signed by President Biden on the day of his inauguration.
The Executive Order in question declares that “laws that prohibit sex discrimination … covers discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation.” One of the laws specifically cited in that Executive Order is Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Title IX creates the relatively level economic playing field for women’s sports by denying institutions the ability to use any sort of “revenue proportionality” calculation to allot funds for women’s sports.
The Executive Order here intends to bar discrimination for the LGBTQ segment of society. Let me say simply and clearly that I support any action that removes discrimination for every segment of society that is not performance based or scientifically impossible. I have no problem with “gay marriage”; I have no problem with “same sex couples adopting children”; I would prefer not to have females use the same public restrooms that I do, but I will not go on any crusade to stop that from happening; I do have problems with any sorts of laws or regulations or even social customs that alienate individuals on the basis of their gender or their sexual preference(s). Having said that, some folks believe that President Biden’s Executive Order could be disastrous for women’s sports.
- If “gender identity” is absolutely protected against discrimination, then a biological male can “gender identify as a female” – either permanently or merely conveniently – and be eligible to compete against females in athletic competitions.
Rather than make a universal statement here that would get me labeled as a chauvinist troglodyte, let me say that male athletes who would likely not be “championship material” competing against other elite male athletes could likely be dominant in competitions against female athletes.
- The male who runs 10th in the Olympic 100-meter dash would be a force majeure in a sprint of the same distance with only female opponents.
- The male sitting at the end of any NBA bench who gets to play only in epic blowout games would likely dominate the WNBA.
- Top level females would be hard pressed to beat good-but-not-championship-caliber males in virtually all the field events at a track meet.
My point here is that – – if you extrapolate all of this to a logical and negative end point – – women’s sports could become dominated by males who “gender identify” as females. And that situation might not be a good end point for women’s athletics.
Can it happen? Well, evidently there are at least two of the States whose legislatures believe it can happen and those legislatures in Mississippi and North Dakota are in the process of passing bills requiring participation in sports there to be solely based on the gender assigned at birth. So, that would seem to settle all of this; consider that as “problem solved”. Except that would set up the situation where a State Law could conflict directly with a Presidential Executive Order. Such conflicts get resolved in courts and in various legislative bodies – – and that is not the kind of “publicity” that women’s sports needs.
Obviously, the most malignant outcome here for women’s sports is some nightmarish twist wherein the Executive Order is deemed to have overreached AND that Title IX itself is somehow unconstitutional. The gloom-and-doom prognosticators here would be proven right under that scenario; women’s sports would be gutted in that circumstance. But the only way for that to happen is for this to go to court in the first place and setting up a potential conflict between an Executive Order and State Law is one way to do that.
I think the gloom-and-doomsayers are well ahead of themselves at this point. Here is a link to the Executive Order in question in case you want to read it and make your own interpretation.
Moving on … there is no real women’s equivalent to college football, so this is a total break in focus here. Nick Saban was on Rich Eisen’s show recently and was asked about the possibility of expansion of the CFP. Moreover, Saban was asked if he was in favor of such expansion.
Nick Saban has been around the block enough times not to answer that sort of question directly but still to offer an answer that touches on the central portion of the question. What he did here was to express his concerns about the secondary effects of expanding the CFP:
“I just wonder sometimes if having a playoff and bowl games, and that was the unique thing about bowl games in college football, a lot of players got self-gratification for having good seasons. They got to go to a bowl game, their families, the program, everything sort of got some positive self-gratification of what they were able to accomplish even though they weren’t national championship caliber or playoff caliber. Now that’s all been diminished a bit. You just wonder, can playoff and bowl games co-exist, or should we just have more teams in the playoff? I’m not saying I’m for it or against it. I think that’s the question people need to answer.”
That statement brings home to me the glass half full versus half empty perception:
- I see most of the “minor bowl games” as useless spectacles.
- Nick Saban sees them as a reward for good-but-not-great teams.
- Po – TAY – toe … Po – TAH – toe.
Finally, apropos of exactly nothing, here is a Tweet from Brad Dickson formerly of the Omaha World Herald:
“I asked my 4-year-old nephew what he plans to do for a living. He says, ‘I want to shave goats.’ Me: ‘Good. I was afraid you wanted to be a writer.’”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………