The problem with women’s sports isn’t that women don’t like to play them, or that they can’t play with athleticism, grace, spirit and tenacity. It’s that they would much rather play them than watch them.

On average, however, men are far more passionate fans of competitive sports than women are, even if they don’t play. But, so far, they are only fans of sports that other men play.

So the gains recorded by Title IX, the 1972 federal law that says public-school sports programs can’t discriminate in the resources they devote to men’s sports versus women’s, are real enough.

But they’re confined to the field, the pool, the arena and the court. That is, the number of girls and women playing high school and college-level sports rose tenfold since Title IX took effect.

But efforts to create professional leagues for women in many sports in which men’s teams prosper have been much less successful.

Whether it’s basketball, soccer, softball or volleyball, pro leagues have either foundered or found only limited success.

The exceptions appear to be golf and especially tennis, which have gained a following on television and are able to offer women prizes that provide a real chance at gaining substantial financial rewards.

Why the difference? While some say the cause is rooted in male and female natures, others say that our culture still socializes boys and girls differently. That means that only girls who know adults who introduce them to sports, both as spectators and participants, carry that interest on into their adult years.

While that may mean things will change over time, for now it appears that the main characteristic of women who like sports will be that they express that interest on the field rather than in the bleachers.

That’s a good thing for those who are involved, but most women find it limits how far they can progress once they graduate from high school or college. How to turn that red light into a green one remains a mystery.