“It’s Hockey” or Is It? An Alternate Reality for Title IX


“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…”

This is the essence of Title IX, passed as part of the Educational Amendments Act of 1972. No doubt Title IX has impacted many facets of education but the best known is its impact on women’s sports.


Before Title IX, there were virtually no women’s college sports. Now every college tries hard to see that female participation matches male. An unforeseen consequence is the increase in the number of female athletes making careers on Wall Street. Probably not exactly what Birch Bayh and Patsy Mink had in mind when they guided the law through Congress.

Two stories caught my eye recently and made me think about an alternate reality for Title IX.

The first is the Richie Incognito vs. Jonathan Martin locker room hazing firestorm that is morphing into widespread criticism of the NFL culture.

The second is about women’s Olympic hockey. Jeré Longman is the author of Border War Brewing for the Olympics. With only two teams that are annually competitive for the World Championship or the Olympic Gold Medal, the rivalry has become intense.

“Women’s hockey prohibits body checking and has established its distinctiveness with speed, stick handling, fluidity and finesse. Smaller players retain a chance to excel. But as players have grown bigger, faster and stronger, more fit and competitive, a hybrid game has evolved that increasingly embraces muscular assertiveness.”

“Players are continually pushing the limits of permissible contact.”

“‘We send a message to the world to prove that, yeah, we can hit,’ American forward Lyndsey Fry said. ‘We’re not going to go out there and open-ice hit someone; that’s not allowed. But we can throw our bodies around. We can get really gritty in the corners. When somebody throws me into the boards a little bit, it’s not cheap play. It’s hockey.’”

Now for the alternate reality.

What if the purpose of Title IX had been to bring male participation in sports up to the level of female participation?

What if team sports had begun more as female activities later to be emulated by males than male activities later to be emulated by females?

How would the games differ?

How would the alternate reality be suited to today’s culture?