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Calling the Bluff on Women's Athletics
September 2, 2003
by Carey Roberts

Radical feminist orthodoxy holds that differences between men and women are socially constructed. For example, feminists make the loopy argument that the fact that women are usually the primary caretakers of children is yet another example of the patriarchy at work.

The absurdity of this unisex theory is most obvious in the world of athletic competition.

In 1993, the Clinton administration brought in radical feminist Norma Cantu to head up the Office of Civil Rights in the Department of Education. Cantu established a rigid quota system which decreed that if 54% of the student body are female, then 54% of the athletes also must be female. Then Cantu used Title IX as a club to bludgeon sports programs into compliance.

But a decade of Title IX deprogramming has failed to make a dent in the basic equation: twice as many males as females are interested in playing organized sports, according to various surveys. And a June 16 article in the liberal New York Times admitted that male viewers of ESPN outnumber females three to one.

This fact is most obvious in the world of women's professional sports.

At the Women's United Soccer Association, teams compete in vacant stadiums. In 2001, an average of 8,104 fans attended each WUSA game. This season, the number has dropped to 6,667. TV ratings have completely fallen off the radar.

Things are even worse at the Women's NBA, which is bleeding teams, fans, and money. Despite shutting down two teams and relocating two others, attendance is down 3.6% from last year. Recently the NBA had to give the WNBA a $12 million infusion to keep it afloat.

Two weeks ago, it was reported that Latasha Byears, star player for the Los Angeles Sparks, had allegedly participated in the gang rape of a former teammate. Why media coverage of this incident pales in comparison to the Kobe Bryant case is anybody's guess.

But what really gets the goat of the feminist zealots is the gender pay gap.

They don't seem to understand that most fans -- male and female -- view women's sports as the minor league equivalent of men's athletics. No female athlete comes close to matching the athleticism and mass appeal of a John Elway, Wayne Gretsky, Tiger Woods, or Michael Jordan.

Nonetheless, the WNBA players are threatening a walkout unless they get more money. And the Women's Tennis Association believes women should be paid the same Wimbledon prize money as the men, even though the women only have to play three sets to win.

So if radical feminists really believe that differences between the sexes are socially constructed, and think that female athletics provide the same entertainment value as male sports, why don't we call their bluff?

Let's allow the women to square off directly against the men.

Instead of the Ladies PGA whining that they aren't paid as much as the men, the LPGA should start to prep more Suzy Whaleys and Annika Sorrenstams to compete on the PGA Tour.

In tennis, mixed doubles have a long tradition, so the Women's Tennis Association will have no objection to the women pounding out five sets of tennis against the men.

And all the best soccer players in the world are female, at least according to Rachel Rutledge, author of "The Best of the Best in Soccer." So surely the WUSA will readily agree to a match-up against the underdog men.

So let's stop this paternalistic "separate-and-unequal" treatment of female athletes. Let's allow the women to play against the men.

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