“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
Title IX covers a sweeping spectrum of topics, but its most publicized impact has been on amateur sports. Wherever federal funds are received, there must be equal opportunities for males and females to participate in athletics.
Marshall County enjoys a unique position among First Region schools in that, as measured by successes, it has eclipsed all other programs with regard to the intentions of Title IX.
n A basketball program that has produced two state championship teams and the state’s all-time winningest coach.
n A soccer program that dominated the region with 15 consecutive trips to the state tournament and was led for 14 years by the second-ranked coach on the all-time victories list.
Those are top highlights, but the list goes on. There are numerous other achievements by Marshall County teams and individuals in girls sports competition.
But just as individuals and institutions are due recognition for their accomplishments, they are responsible for their shortcomings.
Not so much with regard to achievements such as state or region championships or numbers of victories, but with regard to doing the right thing by all participants.
The school district has admitted faults in its administration of the MCHS interscholastic sports program according to the requirements of Title IX. The immediate remedy is anticipated to cost some $87,000, a bitter pill for financial managers of the school system and its athletic programs – and for taxpayers – in tough economic times.
This is part of the heartburn inevitably associated with sweeping federal mandates such as Title IX. There’s not a whole lot of wiggle room with regard to application of the litmus test “equitable.”
Should there be wiggle room?
Human tendencies might suggest not. Give us an inch, we have repeatedly shown, and we will take one or more miles. Quite often if not always, our feet need to be held to the fire.
It’s nice to think we could have dealt with a glaring inequity between baseball and softball by providing a press box and concession facility. Any facility, not necessarily a nearly identical one, would’ve been better than nothing.
And might have precluded the filing of a grievance.
But not if the “approximately equal” press box had been set up as a token effort, an attempt to shortcut the intentions of Title IX rather than abide by them.
I don’t believe the leaders of Marshall County Schools are unconcerned about the sports and other school activities that operate below the marquee level of basketball, football and soccer. However, recent developments suggest their attention to the details was lacking.
Hopefully, we can all be confident that won’t happen again anytime soon. n