With the U.S. 15k championships happening a couple week ago, I was reminded of my experience there last year. Surprisingly, it isn’t the grueling miles of the race nor the hospitality of the elite race coordinator, Richard Fanin, which stand out in my mind. Rather it is a conversation I had with the honored speaker and guest of the weekend, Craig Virgin.
It all started when I was eating breakfast the day before the race, and Craig sat down at the table. After a few pleasantries, Craig decided that making disparaging comments about Title IX would be the next logical step in a conversation with two female professional runners and their male friend. Craig said something along the lines of "not being able to believe that Title IX was still a law," and being disgusted by "the crazy old women who made sure no one touched the legislation."
I tried to keep my composure as I told him he should be more aware of his audience because without Title IX and the "crazy old women" who make sure it stays intact, my friend and I would not be at this race."
"No," I replied, "of course that's not fair if you just look at those numbers. But it's not fair men have 80 full football scholarships to women's zero football scholarships."
“Most college football programs don't make a profit, and why do they need 80 scholarships and 120+ players in their roster when NFL teams operate with rosters half that size?” I asked. It was about this time Richard sensed trouble was afoot and stepped in to make jokes.
I understand Title IX is a touchy subject. In a sport where talented athletes are often under-funded, it is hard not to get angry that female teams have more access to scholarships. If you want the same number of scholarships, work for a change in how funding is distributed. I love my male runners, and I want them to have every chance at succeeding as student-athletes as I do. But, you need to look at the bigger picture, and that should not take resources away from women, who are still only funded one dollar for every two dollars spent on men’s collegiate athletics. It is 2014, and the concept of Title IX, that women should have equal funding in federally funded programs, should no longer be controversial.
Most importantly, I'd never have been on a large poster if it weren't for Title IX.