Today’s #TBT sports blog recounts the ground breaking bill known as Title IX that changed the landscape of women’s sports in our country.
On June 23, 1972 former President Richard M. Nixon signed into law the landmark civil rights legislation known as Title IX.
Long overdue in American education, this transformational living law not only protected against discrimination in education.
But, it breathed life into moribund and nearly non-existent women’s athletic programs at the United States collegiate level.
Women’s sports constituted only one of 10 key areas that Title IX addressed. However, the sweeping Title IX legislation brazenly broke down doors for women to compete and succeed in college sports like their athletic male counterparts.
Title IX’s athletic reach was astounding.
Before Title IX, no official university or college level athletic programs existed for women. Back then, cheerleading and square dancing (seriously!) were recognized as the two most popular, though unofficial, sports for women.
During the early 1970s, less than 2% of a college’s athletic budget was spent on women’s sports.
At the time, only one out of 27 high school girls participated in sports.
Title IX Becomes Game Changer
When Title IX came along, it instantly became the game changer in women’s sports and afforded female athletes, like former UConn basketball champion Sue Bird pictured in the comic below, to excel on the college level.
This ground breaking legislation, plus its 20 subsequent amendments and Supreme Court reviews, brought a greater balance of gender equity in college sports.
Because of Title IX, thousands of eager, purposed and talented female athletes have flourished while competing on the college level in sports they love.
I can offer a list of incredible athletes who have directly gleaned from the opportunities that Title IX presented and who, after college, emerged as Olympic or world champions.
Take Olympic track and field legend Jackie Joyner-Kersee (UCLA).
Consider WNBA greats Lisa Leslie (USC), Candace Parker (Tennessee), Sheryl Swoopes (Texas Tech), Cheryl Miller (UCLA) and former UConn National Champions Swin Cash, Sue Bird, Maya Moore, Tina Charles and Diana Taurasi.
Ponder soccer stars Abby Wambauch (Florida), Alex Morgan (Cal), Mia Hamm (UNC), Christie Rampone (Monmouth) and Julie Foudy (Stanford).
And, remember softball pitchers Jennie Finch (Arizona) and Lisa Fernandez (UCLA).
Certainly, Title IX paved the way for and was instrumental in their amazing individual successes.
However, let’s not forget the legions of unknown female athletes at little known colleges and universities. These young women have skated on the ice, run on the track, dribbled on the soccer pitch or basketball court, slid on the softball diamond, sprinted on the lacrosse field, dove into the swimming pool, volleyed on the tennis court and bumped, set and spiked on the volleyball court.
Before Title IX Only Cheerleading & Square Dancing
Before Women’s World Cups and NCAA Women’s College Basketball Tournaments, female college athletes had few opportunities other than cheerleading or square dancing.
As a collective piece of legislation, Title IX profoundly impacted women’s sports and leveled the playing field for aspiring females.
Bravo to all the female athletes who have benefited since Title IX’s 1972 passage.
And, let’s cheer on the young females who will take advantage of this groundbreaking legislation in the future!
MIKE on sports!