The Three-Prong-Test

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February 28, 2009AbstractTitle IX has made a significant impact by attacking gender discrimination in sports. Although the original legislation was passed in 1972, implementation was delayed due to problems in interpretations. The Three-Prong-Test of Title IX has directly resulted in an increase of women participation in sports. Even though Title IX has been put to the test by multiple different legal arguments, Title IX and its Three-Prong-Test has prevailed once all the facts were presented.

Since its first introduction in 1979, the three-prong-test of Title IX has been highly controversial. Many anti-Title IX groups contend that it is often interpreted as a quota, placing too much emphasis on the first prongs reference to proportionality, and failing to take into account the genders differing levels of interest in athletics. Others feel that the interpretation of Title IX actually discriminates against men by removing opportunities of male athletes and giving them to females who are less interested. Supporters of the three-prong-test of Title IX defend that genders that differ athletic interest is merely a product of past discrimination, and that Title IX should be interpreted to maximize participation of female athletes regardless of any existing disparity of interest. So, is the three-prong-test an appropriate tool to show compliance of Title IX? I believe after uncovering the history of Title IX, defining what each of the prongs are and dissolving some of the misconstrued facts regarding Title IX and its three-prong-test, that the majority of Americans would be in favor of Title IX and its compliance tools.

Title IX refers to an Education Amendment provision of 1972 that states: No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance. (http://www.aauw.org/advocacy/laf/lafnetwork/library/athleticshistory.cfm?renderforpri) Nowhere in the Title IX law does it mention sports or anything about athletics. It was intended to cover all programs receiving federal funding assistance. This includes science and math classes as well as any non-sport extracurricular activities such as school bands and recreational clubs. However, the area of athletics draws the most concern and controversy making Title IX and its three-prong-test most visible.

In 1979 the Department of Education (under President Carters administration) established a three-prong-test to insure compliance with the highly controversy Title IX law. The test provides that an institution is in compliance with Title IX if (1) the number of athletic participants should mirror the number of undergraduate students from a participation percentage standpoint (Appenzeller and Appenzeller page 251). For example a college in Mississippi where women make up 65 percent of the undergraduate student body and the men make up the remaining 35 percent; then the 65 percent of the athletes should be women and 35 percent males. There should be enough sports to accommodate the percentage difference. If an institution fails to meet the first prong of proportionality standard, then the second (2) prong states schools may demonstrate that they have regularly added teams in an effort to increase opportunities for the underrepresented gender(Appenzeller and Appenzeller page 251). If the institution fails to meet both prong one and two, there is still yet another opportunity for compliance known as the third prong (3) which states Schools may demonstrate that when members of the underrepresented gender have demonstrated sufficient ability and interest to warrant the addition of a new program and/or new participation opportunities, that interest has been met (Appenzeller and Appenzeller page 251). If an institution is suspected to be in non-compliance or a complaint is filled against the institution, the Office of...
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