Ladies First? Here Comes the OCR

Glenn Ricketts

Gender equity full timers are at it again - you didn't really think, did you, that they'd run out of things to complain about? The earth-shaking injustice in their minds this time centers on college basketball: whenever double-headers featuring both men's and women's basketball teams are scheduled, the ladies usually play first, followed by the men's squad. Is that a big deal? Evidently the US Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights thinks so. On the basis of an anonymous complaint it received last March, OCR is now hard at work investigating several collegiate basketball conferences to determine whether, as the complainant alleges, such "sexist" scheduling demeans women's basketball. Inside Higher Education has the details here. But when you've read that, be sure to check out this recent piece by the always-lucid Christina Sommers. Feminist sports advocates, she notes, are in a big lather over the fact that men's sporting events typically draw much larger TV and live audiences than women's do. In this case, though, they aren't dealing with clandestine federal bureacrats or easily cowed college administrators, but with the actual public sports market where fans can freely adjust their TV channels or decide which games they want to attend. On that basis, female basketball teams may well see most of the crowd head for the exits if OCR decides to coerce college sports schedule makers into having the guys play first. I'm all for women playing basketball, needless to say, but if feminists win here, female athletes will likely lose.

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