Thursday, February 18, 2010

Props for Title IX

Tara Parker-Pope's article in the NY Times offers a glimpse into recent studies conducted by economists Betsey Stevenson and Robert Kaestner that demonstrate the positive effect of sports in the lives of young women (thanks to Tom for pointing this article out to me). A rise in educational and employment levels for women coupled with lower rates of obesity can be directly tied to the implementation of Title IX, the 1972 federal law that requires schools to provide the same opportunities for both young men and young women. Since 1972 the % of girls playing high-school sports has jumped from 4% to 25%.

This is compelling evidence to keep the law fully in effect.

On the other side of the coin, Murray Sperber (in his book Beer and Circus) points out that the gains for men who participate in sports may be on the wane; not in all sports but in the sports that have become largely professional at the college level (football and basketball). Where at one time football players had an improved chance of increased earnings and better employment, prioritizing football over academics may be causing a reversal in the trend.

I have a colleague and friend (H. David Hunt) who tells me that any extracurricular activity has similar benefits for high-school students. So if your daughter is not inclined to play softball or run track, encourage her to join the French club.

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