Sunday, June 24, 2012

Numbers Don't Lie...people do.

One of ESPN's Sportscenter episodes from June 23, 2012 extolled the virtues of Title IX.  An anchor points out that some opponents of Title IX argue that it takes funds and participation away from male sports.  She then segued to male reporter who proceeded to cite numbers showing increased participation rates in both male and female sports.  The conclusion from the reporter and the anchor was that Title IX increased participation rates in sports for males AND females because numbers "don't lie."

We could follow the same logic.  Suppose there is a two parent household with one male child on whom they can spend $100/month.  Then, they have a second, female, child but their income remains the same.  Will they spend more than $100/month?  No, they can't afford it.  They must split their spending on each child.  The male gets $50/month as does the female.

The increase in male and female participation reflects the increase in popularity and profitability of collegiate sports.  There is no question that athletics departments with finite resources must take income away from the lowest revenue producing male sports and reallocate income toward the highest producing female sports.  Also, this reallocation reduces the number of scholarships for males but increases those available for females.

Bottom line: yes, diverting money from male sports and toward female sports does reduce the number of male sports and participants.  But, that IS acceptable because it provides opportunity for female athletes that wouldn't exist otherwise, or at least did not exist in the past.

ESPN should be confident that their audience understands this fact rather than presenting numbers, claiming that numbers don't lie, and then lying about what the numbers mean.

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