Is Unionization Good for Women’s College Athletics?

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The NYT chips away at the question in an article published today, “Amid Cheers, Union Bid Stirs Concern for Women.”  Here is an excerpt, quoting Feminist Law Prof Erin Buzuvis and citing her work at the Title IX Blog:

Female athletes graduate at a 10 percent to 15 percent higher rate than male athletes. Of the original 64 women’s teams in this N.C.A.A. tournament, 21 had a 100 percent graduation rate.

And for that, they are mostly ignored by the news media and struggle to gain evenhanded treatment from administrators.

Conversely, an arms race sustains football and men’s basketball. And a misperception continues about the associated revenue and profit. Yes, those two sports generate millions of dollars. But, according to a 2010 N.C.A.A. study, more than 40 percent of the football and men’s basketball teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision of Division I spend more money than they earn.

In other words, at many colleges, football and men’s basketball do not pay for themselves, much less finance other sports.

Given the current state of college athletics, there seems more potential benefit than risk for women in the types of reform that might ripple from the Northwestern case, said Erin Buzuvis, a law professor at Western New England University and a co-founder of the Title IX Blog.

“Division I athletic programs have been bringing in increasingly more money, and it hasn’t been the case that opportunities for women have been getting better,” Buzuvis said. “In fact, we’ve been seeing the reverse, a backslide.”

In her view, the equal treatment requirement of Title IX would compel colleges to provide the same collectively bargained benefits to female athletes as male athletes, from extended health insurance to salaries. “Nothing that happened” so far in the Northwestern case “changed Title IX in any way,” Buzuvis said.

The full article is here.

-Bridget Crawford

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