Despite overall progress made toward gender equality, women still face gender discrimination in sports. Enter Title IX, the statute that protects against gender discrimination in intercollegiate athletics.
If you follow or participate in eSports, you may wonder whether Title IX protects women against gender discrimination since it has not been decided if eSports qualify as intercollegiate athletics. Let’s explore the answer to that question and also discover if collegiate eSports are subject to Title IX.
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What Is Title IX?
According to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, Title IX protects against discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance.
This applies to all facets of the education system, including schools, local and state education agencies, libraries, museums, and more. Title IX is vigorously enforced by the Office of Civil Rights to ensure that any institution that receives federal funding complies with the law.
How Does Title IX Impact Collegiate Sports?
While Title IX does provide more opportunities for women in collegiate sports, a significant amount of gender discrimination against women still exists in sports. Before Title IX’s inception in 1972, only 1 in 27 girls played varsity sports.
Today, that figure is 1 in 2.5, and many more women can afford to attend university through athletic and academic scholarships that used to predominantly go to men.
All that being said, the playing field is far from level or equal. For example, although women in Division I colleges are 53 percent of the student body, they receive only 41 percent of the opportunities to play sports, 36 percent of overall athletic operating budgets, and 32 percent of the dollars spent to recruit new athletes.
It is estimated that men receive $133 million more per year than women do in athletic scholarships.
Are Esports Technical “Sports” Under Title IX?
The Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights has not discussed whether they will treat eSports as intercollegiate athletics.
Are eSports Governed by Title IX?
The National Collegiate Athletic Association voted against governing college eSports in 2019. This is important because the NCAA could be instrumental in identifying potential non-compliance with Title IX and reporting it to the Office of Civil Rights, but they have removed themselves from the equation.
As a result, it is up to each individual college or university where they place eSports within the institution. Some have integrated eSports into their athletic departments, while others have chosen to place it within student affairs or computer science.
However, collegiate eSports are still subject to Title IX, and there are certain Title IX policy implications for collegiate athletics.
Things To Consider When It Comes to Title IX And eSports
Promoting equality within eSports may seem like a daunting task, but strategies exist that colleges and universities can use to try to make it happen. Here are some things that administrations can consider when they are looking at how to promote equality within eSports:
- Cyberbullying awareness is the first critical step in making sure women can achieve parity with men in the world of eSports. Acknowledging and actively encouraging the reporting of cyberbullying within the eSports community helps discourage it from continuing.
- Coaches and advisors that combat bullying are necessary because reporting cyberbullying is worth nothing unless there are repercussions for those who participate in the behavior. If coaches and advisors make it clear that bullying will not be tolerated, then more women may be willing to join eSports teams.
- Focusing on recruiting women seems like an obvious step, but it is no less important. Marketing recruitment to eSports teams specifically toward women means that those women will feel included and heard on day one.
- Awarding scholarships proportionally is not only a requirement of Title IX, it encourages more women to focus on athletics including eSports. Doing this makes it obvious that a college or university values its female students as much as its male ones.
- Expanding opportunities for female athletes is a must if an institution expects to recruit and retain female athletes. In the world of eSports, it would be good to build connections with professional teams who hold the same values of equality and inclusion for female athletes to have somewhere to progress to after they are done at the college or university level.
I hope you’ve found this information on how Title IX affects eSports helpful. Please share any feedback you may have in the comments section!