Study shows physical gap between male and female student athletes
The NCAA has 90 national championships yearly, with 41 men’s sports and 46 women’s sports. About 460,000 athletes compete across Division I, II and III yearly.
Even with all of these sports and athletes, some feel it is not enough. This poses the question: Should all sports be co-ed? Or, alternatively, should an alternate division be opened for co-ed teams while maintaining the current championship structure?
The answer is not simple. While it is easy to put onto paper a plan to add more teams and tournaments, it might not be financially feasible.
A 2012 USA Today article states expenses for the NCAA were $800 million.
Most of these expenses were spent on distributing funds amongst members throughout the divisions, while others were used for standard association upkeep. Of these expenses, over $100 million was spent on championships, including payment for travel, overnight stays, feeding teams and celebrations.
The financial strain of adding multiple championships at once might be hard to handle, especially for sports that don’t generate enough revenue to be profitable.
Another issue this presents is interest.
The NCAA currently hosts three different co-ed teams, fencing, rifle and skiing. Except for football and wrestling, each sport has both a male and female affiliate.
Stretching out players across an extra team might not be feasible for schools, especially smaller liberal art colleges like Franklin College.
The biggest issue with co-ed sports is the physical gap. Harvard Medical School published an article in 2015 detailing the differences between gender-based injuries.
It found females are more prone to injuries such as ankle sprains, knee injuries, shoulder problems and stress fractures.
When considering the reasons for the increase in female injuries, it was found it was most likely caused by a combination of factors like higher estrogen levels, wider pelvis, higher flexibility leading to looser ligaments and greater likelihood for vitamin D deficiency.
Junior forward basket ball player Gunnar Dittrich likes the idea of adding a co-ed team at the college but is unsure of its practicality.
“It would be a fun idea to have an integrated team at Franklin,” he said. “The only problem would be the physical differences that are present when playing the sport. Ultimately, it’s up to the NCAA to decide what would be fair for everyone that would want to be involved.”
It is generally accepted that men are bigger and physically stronger than women on average. This is not to say women are inferior or less capable of playing a sport than men, but separate teams based on biological gender are in place to ensure a competitive environment for all athletes.