Florida school sports cuts might be rescinded. But does football get to stay coed?
The St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times is reporting on its high school sports blog that there is a good chance, judging by the agenda for its July 15 meeting, that the Florida High School Athletic Association might rescind cuts it made to every sport except football and cheerleading.
In the agenda, Executive Director Roger Dearing will apparently recommend that the controversial scheduling cuts — 20 percent for all varsity sports except football and cheerleading, and 40 percent for junior varsity sports — be rescinded. …
The cuts, which the FHSAA maintains was merely a move to save money, didn’t seem to be very popular with many Tampa Bay area coaches. But the fact that the cuts did not include football spawned a lawsuit by a group of parents represented by Nancy Hogshead-Makar, claiming the cuts discriminated against female athletes and were not in compliance with Title IX.
(If the name Nancy Hogshead rings a bell, it might be that you remember her winning three gold medals and a silver in swimming at the 1984 Olympics. That’s her in her swimming glory days at right. Now she’s an attorney who handles a lot of Title IX cases. This one is a little personal, considering Hogshead-Makar lives in the Jacksonville area and has three young children — including twin daughters.)
Of course, it’s no sure thing the FHSAA board will overturn its plan, even though it passed only 9-6 in April. Someone is going to likely suggest, correctly, that the association is going to have to do something to help schools whose budgets are cratering under the mortgage meltdown.
However, what does not help is stupidity like, say, responding to Hogshead-Makar’s lawsuit by declaring football a “coed sport” (because three out of 36,000 players are girls) for the purposes of defending yourself in a Title IX lawsuit. No disrespect to cheerleading as a physical activity, but certainly the FHSAA’s exclusion of that from cuts was supposed to show some sort of gender equity at stake. The raw numbers don’t add up: there are 5,000 cheerleaders, so you’re running about 31,000 short to keep things equitable. Cynicism (or idiocy) like this is why people bringing Title IX lawsuits generally win them.
The FHSAA is due back in court July 17, whatever way it goes in it next meeting. No word yet on whether football gets to stay a coed sport if the FHSAA settles the case.