Sports Outside the Beltway

NCAA Proposes Keeping Men and Women Apart

The NCAA’s committee on women’s athletics is not happy at women’s teams practicing against men.

The committee has said the practice violates the spirit of Title IX and is creating fewer opportunities for women. It issued a position statement last month calling for a ban on the use of men in practices in all intercollegiate women’s sports. Though the practice is most common in basketball, it has spread to other sports, including volleyball, softball and soccer.

“To have talented, capable female student-athletes stand on the sidelines during official practice while the team’s starters practice against ‘more talented men’ is a lost opportunity,” the committee said in the statement. “To have them sitting out of practice while a full ‘scout team’ of men practices is costing them opportunity for growth and betterment that they were promised during recruitment.”

The committee further contended that the use of men, who are usually students who played high school sports but are not good enough to make college men’s teams, is “an archaic notion of male pre-eminence that continues to impede progress toward gender equity and inclusion.”

However not all of the women’s coaches are on board for the proposedmove.

“I have not heard any players or coaches voice a concern over this,” Connecticut Coach Geno Auriemma said. “I’ve not spoken to a single coach who thinks their team or players would benefit from this move. I don’t understand the rationale or why they are so gung-ho about changing this.

“You can attribute the growth of the game to the development of the players, and player development has a lot to do with the competition they face every day in practice. Using male practice players has done a lot for the growth of the game and the development of the players. Why would they choose now to fool around with it? I have no idea.”

I’ve always had mixed feeling on the Title IX issue, finding it to be the right idea with the wrong execution. While schools should provide opportunities for women in sports it should require sacrifices on either end. The gender group’s interest in playing sports at a particular school as no bearing on the requirements expected of a school to provide opportunities. Personally I played a sport that was dropped from school sponsorship as a result of Title IX enforcement and the school’s unwillingness to add additional sports. The same fate fell some male classmates who, in their junior year, found themselves without a team to play on. In my opinion schools shouldn’t be required to make everything even they should meet the needs of the students even if it means carrying more men’s or women’s teams at a given school. In this case, let the coaches decide what is best for their players; if they feel that practicing against men will make their women better players, the NCAA should just butt out.

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