When I look back on my time in college, my participation in NCAA Division II athletics was by far one of the highlights.
Being a college athlete taught me about time management, goal setting, and physical and mental toughness. It brought me lifelong friendships. It paid for my college education.
When we were in the offseason in the spring, I got a small glimpse into what my college experience would have been like without swimming. I was less disciplined with my time. My grades dipped. Even though there were fewer practices and no meets, I was more tired.
All in all, I owe a lot to my participation on the swim team in college.
And I’m not the only woman who has benefited from the opportunity to participate in athletics. Research shows that girls who participate in organized sports are happier and healthier. They’re also more likely to achieve higher grades and have successful careers. Don’t believe me? Just ask the over 96 percent of high-ranking female executives who participated in competitive sports.
But now, policies in athletic organizations across the country are threatening the equal opportunities of women and girls to participate in athletics on a level playing field. These policies allow male athletes who identify as female to compete in women’s sports. The result? Deserving women and girls are being displaced from their teams, bumped off medal podiums, and erased from the record books by male athletes.
That’s why female Olympians, Title IX pioneers, and more than 300 collegiate and professional athletes signed a letter to the NCAA, calling on the athletic association to reject efforts to boycott the state of Idaho because of its law protecting women’s sports.
Extremist groups have urged the NCAA to boycott Idaho, which earlier this year passed the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act—a commonsense law that reserves girls’ and women’s sports for female athletes.
But the only thing a boycott would do is harm Idaho athletes.
As hundreds of female athletes—more than 200 of which are current and former NCAA athletes (myself included)—express in their letter to the NCAA:
Such bullying tactics are antithetical to the NCAA values of respect, fairness, and civility, and would send a chilling message to women across the U.S. about the NCAA’s commitment to the integrity of women’s sports.
Fairness for female athletes should not be a political or partisan issue. We athletes have diverse views on many topics, but stand united on this fact: protecting the integrity of women’s sports is pro-woman, pro-fairness, and consistent with the purpose and promise of Title IX.
Women deserve equal opportunity in their sport. And that’s exactly what this Idaho law is seeking to preserve.
Unfortunately, this call for the NCAA to boycott Idaho is not the only resistance that the state has received. The ACLU has also filed a lawsuit challenging the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act. ADF is representing two college athletes in Idaho who have asked to intervene in this lawsuit and defend this state law. These two athletes also signed the letter to the NCAA.
The bottom line is that Idaho’s Fairness in Women’s Sports Act protects the integrity of women’s sports. And if the NCAA is truly interested in providing a fair and level playing field, it will not put the demands of activists over the interests of its student athletes.
Sarah Kramer is the Digital Content Specialist at the Alliance Defending Freedom