WGVU Top Story
Men play more sports than women; study questions Title IX implications
November 26, 2012 | WGVU
“The basic finding is that in the contemporary US men and women seem to engage in similar amounts of exercise - non competitive activities, but if you look at what males and females are doing overall there's a big sex difference - men and boys are playing at least three times as much as girls and women.”
GVSU professor, Robert Deaner, says while the existence of a sex difference in sports
may seem obvious, many scholars, advocacy groups and courts view the difference
as non-existent. He says basing Title IX on an assumption that males and
females have an equal interest in sports could be a mistake. Title IX is a portion of the Education
Amendments of 1972: legislation stating that no person in the United
States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or subjected to, discrimination under any education program
or activity receiving federal financial assistance. Deaner says
while men and women engage in similar amounts of non-competitive exercise, men prioritize
sports more strongly than women and this is based on evolution, not the social environment
we are raised in.
So, don’t we already
know that women and men are built differently and there are differences between the
sexes? Deaner says his study challenges the “blank slate” view that men and
women only differ because of the social environments that shaped them.
“I think it's a big story because if you look at what a lot of very intelligent people are writing in the last 15 or 20 years it's very much become the dominant view that there is no difference to motivation in men and women when it comes to sports or else it's a very small difference and it's quickly disappearing as we try to make more equal opportunities.”
consensus of Title IX experts is that
the sex difference is small based on the fact that females comprise 42 percent of
high school sports and 43 percent of intercollegiate sports participants.
Professor Deaner says his research may not only have implications for Title IX
but may also help us consider how we design physical education classes: currently based on a competitive sports model when
perhaps we should design classes on non-competitive physical activities that
appeal to different demographics.
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