By Brittany Worthington
According to The New York Times a new policy will require schools to demonstrate they are meeting the needs of student interest, such as considering club sports seeking varsity status or not equating a lack of response from students as a lack of interest in sports.
“Meeting needs and meeting interest is a very complicated process and issue especially on a small campus that is resource challenged,” Kristen Smith, Athletic Director, said about the policy changes. “I think it’s very institution specific and institutions need to have the autonomy to assess the availability of resources to see what resources meet the needs of the most students.”
While Smith said Kalamazoo complies with Title IX policy in terms of resources allocated to men’s and women’s sports, she said that the nature of support for women’s athletics is complicated. “Women’s sports do not get the same support as men’s support anywhere. I think our campus reflects social national trends in response to the difference in men’s and women’s programming,” Smith said.
“When you talk about resources and coaching and accessibility to practices and equipment, the college is equitable across the board,” she said. “When you talk about support as people coming to games, media coverage, those types of things, I would say that across the board we are no different than the rest of the nation.”
Senior Cody Musselman, a co-captain of the Women’s Ultimate Frisbee Team, sees the discrepancy in the number of people who come to men’s athletic events versus women’s. “Funding is probably pretty equal, but in terms of support of the campus community, attendance is probably higher for men’s games than women’s,” she said. “It must be discouraging to a female athlete when tons of people come to the men’s games and then no one comes to women’s games.”
Musselman suggested there be some sort of incentive for people to attend women’s sporting events, referencing their former status as LACs. If people would just come to the games, she said, they would see women’s sports offer the same level of spectator satisfaction. “If you’re wrapped up in sports, I think you can enjoy women’s sports just as much as men’s.”