Title IX: Girls’ frosh-soph soccer team cut, prompts controversy
Federal law requires proportional representation of male and female athletes.
October 26, 2017
The athletic board and soccer coaches reached an agreement to eliminate the frosh-soph girls’ soccer team on Oct. 9, due to a shortage of girls trying out.
The suspension of the girls’ team provoked questions about what would happen to the boys’ frosh-soph soccer team.
“There’s plenty of boys trying out [for soccer],” athletic director Ann Pettit said. “The boys’ team will not be cut.”
When level cuts are made in sports, it can affect the team as a whole in various ways. And because of Title IX, cuts can also affect sports school-wide.
“When [coaches] do have to drop a level, [they] will keep more than they normally would on [junior varsity] and varsity,” Pettit said. “When you barely have enough, and then you get injuries and unfortunately some ineligibilities, soon you don’t have enough [athletes] and we have to cancel games.”
Title IX is a federal law that ensures equity of male and female athletic opportunities in public schools. The law states that the number of male and female athletes must remain equal to the percentage of males and females in the school.
“One of the things that puts [the athletes] out of balance immediately is … there’s football, and nothing to match that for the girls,” Pettit said. “There’s almost two of every other sport, but football puts us out of [proportion].”
The creation of a third girls’ basketball team — the frosh-soph team — as well as a stunt team helped balance out the ratio. Pettit explained that if the interest level of a sport increases, a third team may be added to that sport. The possibility of forming a second boys’ lacrosse team and a swim team arose last year, but no formal plans have been made.
“If we have the interest and the facility available and a coach available, then yes, [we can create another team],” Pettit said.
Last year, controversy was sparked when it was rumored cuts had to be made to the boys’ cross country team, due to a lack of girls in the sport.
“In proportion to the numbers of boys and girls at school, we had more boy athletes than girl athletes. In our athletic department in general we had to balance it,” Pettit said. “Some of our bigger programs like cross country and track typically do not cut.”
Although there are some shortcomings with a boy to girl ratio, Pettit claims girls have not reported feeling unsupported.
“Our girls do not feel slighted. Nobody gets cheaper things and everyone gets equal field time. It’s tied with numbers, but also interest,” Pettit said.
Title IX has provided legal protection for an equal balance with boy and girl athletes.
“We are very cognizant of the Title IX law,” Pettit said. “[We are] trying as best we can to keep that proportion of boy and girl athletes with the boy and girl students at [Oak Park High School].”