Who’s on First and What’s on Second?: Assessing Interest Group Strategies on Title IX

in Women in Sport and Physical Activity Journal
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The 30th anniversary of the landmark legislation known as Title IX witnessed a year-long public policy drama over whether the law should be amended in some fashion. The saga reveals much about the political strategies of interest groups engaged in gender policymaking in the 21st century and tests conventional wisdom about policy windows (Kingdon, 1994) and agenda access (Cobb and Ross, 1997). In June 2002, U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige appointed a blue ribbon commission to examine ways of strengthening enforcement and expanding opportunities for all college athletes under Title IX. Over the next 12 months, the commission held public hearings and forwarded numerous recommendations for change to the Secretary, but subsequently the Department of Education elected to take no action.

As David Rochefort and Roger Cobb point out, “If policymaking is a struggle over alternative realities, then language is the medium that reflects, advances, and interprets these alternatives” (1994, p. 9). This case explores the overarching strategic goals, membership mobilization efforts, and media strategies of “initiators” and “opponents” (Cobb & Ross, 1994). We juxtapose these strategies against the unfolding media coverage (an analysis of 297 major newspaper stories in 13 major print outlets) and testimony by 225 individuals before the commission.

While revealing the dynamics of problem, policy and political streams (Kingdon, 1994) and strategies of agenda denial (Cobb & Ross, 1994), the case also exposes important paradoxes that may be explained by gender.

Cindy Simon Rosenthal University of Oklahoma Carl Albert Center Norman, OK 73019 Email: csrosenthal@ou.edu

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