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T Is For Title IX: The History, The Myth, The Reality
I’ve said it a million times and in a million different ways: sport is not just about sport, but about learning the intangible that will benefit its participants for the rest of their lives. Title IX allowed a whole new segment of our society to experience the joy of athletics… check out this article to learn more about what Title IX was supposed to do and if it accomplished its mission.
The story. I was at a conference a few years ago and learned that Title IX is not just a sports amendment…all I had heard was about gender equity for college athletes . In fact, the law prohibits discrimination based on gender in any educational institution that receives federal money…from kindergarten through college. Apparently, back then, schools favored men in admissions policies, recruitment strategies, and financial aid programs. This would clearly limit women’s access to education. Title IX was born in 1972 to alleviate this problem. It turns out that fairness in athletics was a happy byproduct of a much larger law.
The myth. There are a lot of them, so I won’t cover them all, but I wanted to hit a few. The first is “we don’t need Title IX anymore, it’s fine”. While things are certainly better than they were before the amendment, we still have a long way to go. In terms of athletics, women get fewer scholarships and fewer opportunities to compete…so we still need people to be mandated for fairness. Second, a common myth is that “women’s sports lead to the suppression of men’s sports”. Schools aren’t cutting men’s sports because of women’s athletics…they’re cutting them because that’s the choice they made. Participation in male sports is increasing. Administrators decided to drop some sports (notably men’s athletics and wrestling) to bolster financial support for more popular sports.
Reality. Check out these numbers from the Women’s Sports Foundation and Equity Research Center:
- Male athletes still receive 55% of college athletic scholarships;
- Women’s teams receive only 38% of college sports operating funds and 33% of college sports team recruiting expenditures.
However, all is not lost! Check out some of the great things that have happened since Title IX was enacted:
- In 1995, women made up 37% of college athletes, up from 15% in 1972;
- In 1996, girls made up 39% of high school athletes, up from 7.5% in 1971;
- In 1994, women received 38% of medical degrees, compared to 9% in 1972; 43% of law degrees, compared to 7% in 1972; and 44% of all doctorates, up from 25% in 1977.
I believe athletics made me a better person and I can’t imagine my life without sports. Title IX is important to me because I believe in the benefits of sport…and I want to make sure everyone has the same chance as possible to experience those intangibles.
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