A recent article in The New York Times detailed an uptick in philanthropy to colleges and universities to upgrade women's sporting facilities. The insinuation in the article, though – that women are donating to female sports teams because of gender discrimination and Title IX – overlooks some other very important considerations.
Article Reports an Increase in Donations for Female Sports Teams
The article, titled “A Welcome Funding Source for College Athletics: Women Investing in Women's Sports,” tells the story of women who competed in sports in the 1970s and 80s. They played on substandard fields and in secondary facilities that paled in comparison to those enjoyed by the men who played the same sport.
Now, many of those same women have enjoyed successful professional careers or are otherwise in charge of vast sums of money and wealth. Many of them are now donating some of it back to their alma maters, and many of those donations are targeting the sporting discrepancy between genders.
Carol Roberts, for example, played field hockey at Yale in the late 1970s. Now 59 and the CFO at the largest paper company in the world, she donated $4 million to build a new field house for Yale's field hockey team.
The article lists numerous other donations by women, for women's teams.
The Insinuation: Underfunding Women's Teams is Discrimination
The words “Title IX” are only used twice in the article – once in the article's subtitle and once in the article's fourth paragraph. Both instances point out that the donations are surging now that Title IX is approaching its 50th anniversary – the very first beneficiaries of the law are now approaching the age in which donations and philanthropy peak.
However, the references are enough to create an insinuation that these donations are making up for an underfunding that is per se gender discrimination.
The Reality: The Driving Force is Economics
Automatically calling it discriminatory, though, overlooks the most important driving force in how large institutions like colleges spend their money: Economics.
Simply put, investing in major men's sports like basketball and football draws crowds of hundreds of thousands to games and sells lots of other merchandise. It makes money.
Far fewer people spend money on smaller sports like lacrosse or field hockey, and even less money gets spent on women's sports. Expecting schools to invest identical amounts in men's football and women's softball – or even in men's and women's basketball – is simply absurd so long as the return on that investment is unequal. It's not discrimination: It's an investment decision based on economics.
Title IX Defense Lawyer and Advisor: Joseph D. Lento
So many decisions that have disparate outcomes for men and women are being called discriminatory. But true discrimination relies heavily on the intent of the actor: It is not discrimination when there is no intent to discriminate and the results are different for men and women for non-discriminatory reasons.
That is why Joseph D. Lento works as a Title IX defense lawyer and as a national Title IX advisor. He defends against claims of sexual misconduct and gender discrimination. Contact him online or call his law office at (888) 535-3686.