Earlier this week I hear a fantastic interview on my local PBS radio affiliate with long time female sports writer, and author Christine Brennan. Brennan,who's father instilled a passion for sports, talked of her love of sports even though she grew up in the pre Title IX era where girls and women's athletics were practically non-existent. Title IX, she contested is one of the most important laws ever passed! Brennan raved about the many benefits women and society has reaped as a result of educational and athletic equality.
I have to admit, I wasn't totally up on my Title IX history, but Christine convinced me to check it out. Anyone who loved the benefits of recreation as much as this journalist was my new hero (pictured at left). So here's what I learned:
Title IX passed in 1972 states: "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."
I was 11 in 1972, just entering Carl Sandburg Jr. High School in the Robbinsdale (Minnesota) School District. Wow, were my girlfriends and I ever lucky. In 1972 we were the first group of girls to reap the benefits of this great equalizer. It's interesting to note that while Title IX most visibly, and not without controversy, impacted high school and collegiate athletics, the original statute made no reference to athletics. You can find extensive information about this law at Wikipedia which explains, "The legislation covers all educational activities, and complaints under Title IX alleging discrimination in fields such as science or math education, or in other aspects of academic life such as access to health care and dormitory facilities, are not unheard of. It also applies to non-sports activities such as school bands and cheerleaders."
I had no idea that the older sisters of my classmates had no access to after-school sports, intramural or competitive teams in which to play and participate. I had no idea that, had I been born a bit earlier, I might not have been able to take "Industrial Arts" or Auto Shop. Not that I did, mind you, but I could have. I do remember that it was a big deal that boys were allowed to take cooking class with the girls.
As I drive to and from all of the end of the school year festivities, tournaments and graduations at parks as well as elementary, middle and high schools this year; I can't imagine girls NOT playing soccer, volleyball, softball and every other sport known to "boy"kind. Thanks to the Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act (aka Title IX) girls and boys can learn on common ground about those endless benefits of sports, recreation and play.
Do you have a great Title IX or pre-Title IX story? Share it by clicking on COMMENTS below! We need to remind younger colleagues about the not so good 'ol days of gender discrimination on and off the field.