The Struggle for Sex Equality in Sport and the Theory Behind Title IX

126 Pages Posted: 8 Nov 2007 Last revised: 3 Aug 2017

See all articles by Deborah L. Brake

Deborah L. Brake

University of Pittsburgh - School of Law

Date Written: 2001


Title IX's three-part test for measuring discrimination in the provision of athletic opportunities to male and female students has generated heated controversy in recent years. In this Article, Professor Brake discusses the theoretical underpinnings behind the three-part test and offers a comprehensive justification of this theory as applied to the context of sport. She begins with an analysis of the test's relationship to other areas of sex discrimination law, concluding that, unlike most contexts, Title IX rejects formal equality as its guiding theory, adopting instead an approach that focuses on the institutional structures that subordinate girls and women in sport. The Article then elaborates upon and offers a justification for the theory of equality underlying Title IX's three-part test. To support this theory, the Article surveys existing feminist legal scholarship on sport and identifies a need for an analysis of women's position in sport that goes beyond a debate over assimilation versus accommodation, to analyze how educational institutions participate in the construction of sport as a fundamentally masculine domain. To fill this void, the Article explores in detail the processes through which educational institutions construct the different relationships of men and women to sport, through their control over athletic opportunities and the culture of sport. Finally, Professor Brake takes this theory and applies it to other aspects of Title IX law, advocating specific doctrinal reforms that would make Title IX's overall application to athletics more consistent with the theory articulated in this Article.

Keywords: Education Law, Employment Practices, Sports, Women

JEL Classification: K00, K10, K14, K39, K42

Suggested Citation

Brake, Deborah L., The Struggle for Sex Equality in Sport and the Theory Behind Title IX (2001). University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform, Vol. 34, No. 1&2, 2001, U. of Pittsburgh Legal Studies Research Paper, Available at SSRN:

Deborah L. Brake (Contact Author)

University of Pittsburgh - School of Law ( email )

3900 Forbes Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
United States

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