Wednesday, June 05, 2002

Both E.J. Dionne and George Will have now expressed their reservations about the way that Title IX of the Civil Rights Act is being used to equalize male and female participation in college sports--typically by gutting men's programs. Will considers the whole business a travesty, whereas Dionne sympathizes with the goal, but advocates that additional funds be raised to support the newly threatened "marginal" men's sports like wrestling.

I have noted before that political correctness in universities is largely a function of the decline in the value and utility of a liberal arts education, and that academia's more substantial, socially esteemed functions, such as medical, scientific and legal training, have been less seriously affected by it in direct proportion to their perceived fulfillment of a goal too important to undermine. Well, if the liberal arts have decayed into triviality, then college athletics are (and always were, really) downright frivolous. With the exception of big-ticket sports like football and basketball--which are essentially unaffected by Title IX, because universities prize the scads of money they bring in more than they value their own educational mission, let alone some abstract ideal of gender equality--college sports are so obviously and readily expendable that remolding them in the image of some feminist fantasy of gender equivalence seems hardly more foolish than letting them adhere to the old traditionalist fantasy of the "scholar-athlete". Personally, though, I'd treat them as I'd treat the liberal arts faculties: let them find themselves a legitimate educational purpose, and start serving it--or let them perish altogether.

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