Pass the High School Sports Data Transparency Bills

February 06, 2013

Although great advances have been made in the last 40 years thanks to Title IX, the fight for women’s equality in athletics is far from over. The High School Athletics Accountability Act (House) and the High School Data Transparency Act (Senate) were reintroduced this week by Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) to help further gender equality in school athletics. The bills specifically require that high schools report basic data on the numbers of female and male students in their athletic programs and the expenditures made for their sports teams.

See more of our cute, awkward, and awesome photos celebrating National Girls and Women in Sports Day on our Tumblr

Federal law already requires colleges to report this data, but the same standard is not required of secondary institutions. High schools currently collect this data; it is just not being publicly reported. This lack of transparency undermines the purpose of Title IX; without transparency, there can be no reform. As it stands, girls comprise half of the high school population but receive only 41 percent of all athletic participation opportunities — 1.3 million fewer female than male high school athletes — and sometimes receive inferior coaching, equipment, facilities, and scheduling. Further, offering girls equal opportunities in sports is about achieving more than equality; studies have shown that girls and women who participate in sports are less likely to get pregnant, drop out of school, do drugs, smoke, or develop mental illnesses.

In my own high school, I witnessed and experienced many inequities in our athletic program. Going to a “game” almost always implied a men’s competition, whether it was basketball, soccer, or swimming. Even female student athletes I knew frequently talked about watching men’s games — including attending as a team to root for their male counterparts. However, I don’t think I ever heard any male student athletes talk about returning the support for their female peers, and unsurprisingly when I did attend a women’s basketball game, the bleachers were nearly empty.

Courtney.track.NWGSD2013

See more of our cute, awkward, and awesome photos celebrating National Girls and Women in Sports Day on our Tumblr.

This isn’t to say that I believe that the High School Athletics Accountability Act or the High School Data Transparency Act would necessarily change the reality: We have a long way to go to achieve equality in the minds of both women and men when it comes to sports. But these proposed laws take a step in the right direction. When the inequities are out in the open we can more readily act to resolve them. And in time, with more opportunities and resources, girls’ sports will come into more prominence, and maybe one day we will see the bleachers populated with male student athletes rooting for their female counterparts.

As we work toward this goal and honor the 27th annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day, please contact your legislators and ask them to co-sponsor the High School Athletics Accountability Act to help increase transparency and strengthen gender equality in high school athletics.

This blog post was written by AAUW Public Policy Intern Sarah Lazarus.

By:   |   February 06, 2013

3 Comments

  1. @TammyLuck says:

    When I was in high school, the female teams typically played earlier in the day than the male teams, thus making it more difficult for students to go and cheer for them. Is this disparity of treatment covered by either Title IX or the proposed legislation?

  2. Mary Myers says:

    Hooray! Finally some accountability for the money spent!

  3. Sarah Lazarus says:

    Hi Tammy,

    Great question!

    There actually was a case, Parker v. Franklin County Community School Corporation in which a high school women’s basketball team sued their high school because they claimed that they were relegated to weeknight games while the boys’ teams played on Friday and Saturday nights. The lawsuit claims that the weeknight game schedule for the girls makes homework a challenge, results in fewer spectators, generates feelings of inferiority, and violates Title IX and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.

    This case was settled October 15, 2012 in the plaintiff’s favor. The school district agreed to schedule a few more girls’ games in primetime each year over the next several years, until the scheduling is equal.

    And we actually blogged about it just about a year ago: http://blog-aauw.org/2012/02/07/high-school-sports/

    Thanks for reading!

    -Sarah Lazarus
    AAUW Public Policy Intern

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