Title IX Celebrates 40 Year Anniversary
Today marks the 40th Anniversary of Title IX – the legislation requiring schools and colleges receiving federal money to provide the same opportunities for girls as they do for boys. While the law does not specifically mention athletics, this is were the greatest impact has been seen.
I attended Catholic schools through 12th grade. Not attending a public school meant not experiencing the early impacts of Title IX. My all girls high school did not have a gym until after I graduated. And while my brother participated in team sports like Little League, there was no comparable sports leagues in our town for girls.
And so when my daughter showed interest in playing basketball starting in the 3rd grade, I jumped right in to support her. There were several teams in our town that she could participate in and she choose the one where her best friend played. The team played in leagues at the Boys and Girls Club and the YMCA. She played on school teams while in middle school and high school. At both schools there was equal access for boys and girls to play and practice in the school gyms. It was wonderful to watch the boys and girls come out to support each other in their games against other schools.
Times have changed for girls. In 1971, the year before Title IX was enacted, approximately 310,000 girls and women participated in high school and college sports. Today, there are more than 3,373,000. Female athletes can look forward to professional careers in basketball and soccer, along with a handful of other sports.
According to the Women’s Sports Foundation, girls who participate in sports are less likely to have an unwanted pregnancy, have better grades in school, have lower risk of certain types of cancer and better long term bone health among many other health benefits.
If your daughter is not currently engaged in sports, consider encouraging her to join a team or take up an individual sport. Need help figuring out which one may be right for her? Today ESPN launches the espnW Channel through July 31st. Watch some shows and talk about what your daughter may or may not like about each sport. The London Summer Olympics will also be a perfect TV watching opportunity to see female athletes from around the world participating in a wide range of events.
Now I’m off to walk in the Seattle Rock and Roll Half Marathon with my daughter. This is our 4th year in a row and we enjoy it more and more each year. And that is the best part of having a sports minded daughter – she gets me up off the couch too!