Title IX: 50 Years of Progress, Challenges, and a Future to Come | Sports

In 1970, Susan Hollander wanted to compete on the Hamden High boy cross country team.

Connecticut High School did not have a girls’ team for her to participate in, and after being denied running with the boys, Hollander sued. The judge overseeing the case dismissed the dispute, saying: “Sports competition builds character in our boys. We need that kind of personality in our girls.”

Two years later, 35 words changed that and American history with it:

“No person in the United States shall be excluded, on the basis of gender, from participation in, or denied benefits, or subject to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”

On June 23, 1972, Title IX of the Education Amendments was passed into law, outlawing gender discrimination in educational institutions and all other federally funded programs.

The language of law and the intent of its writer wanted to provide more opportunities for women in the classroom, with women at the time earning 9% of medical degrees and 7% of law degrees.

While more doors will open in the field for women as a byproduct of the law, it will become the defining aspect, 50 years later, of Title IX.

Long trip

Participating in sports is more than just a recreational activity to exercise the physical body. It establishes cognitive abilities and helps develop emotional, mental, and societal skills – which women had limited freedom before passing Chapter Nine.

Matches were played differently on the female side of the sport prior to the bill. Women’s basketball matches were played only half a court, and there were a few sports organizations to play besides tennis and golf.

After the passage of Title IX, participation in sports increased throughout the country among girls and women at all levels and in any activity. Half a century later, the statistics continue to rise every year.

“I think the access and the opportunities were the biggest thing,” said Dr. Karen Hartmann, assistant professor at Idaho State University. “Opportunities for women, men, boys and girls have increased every year since Law Nine was enacted. The law that was intended to ban gender discrimination provided opportunities and access to sports was the biggest takeaway.”

But before programs were built and teams formed across the country, math began to confront opposing voices and concrete issues. The all-male college teams feared that in order to comply with Section IX, their teams would be separated from funding or dissolved in order to accommodate the women’s teams.

While the perceived outcome often did not occur, in the years shortly after the Ninth Act Ordinance, newly formed women’s teams faced obstacles not shared by their male counterparts.

“When I look back at my career, when I was in college playing basketball, we didn’t have any scholarships, and when I took the job at North Carolina,” said Judy Rose, a former college basketball player at Winthrop and athletic director at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Carolina in Charlotte, we didn’t have any scholarships for women.”

The lack of enforcement of the Title IX regulation in the early years set a precedent for inequality, which continues to emerge even decades after the landmark decree.

During the 2021 NCAA Women’s College Basketball Tournament, Oregon attacker Sedona Prince took her phone out of her pocket, opened TikTok and started recording for the world to see.

Prince toured the camera around the training facilities at the Alamodome in San Antonio, the site of this year’s biggest women’s basketball tournament, and revealed that the weight room for all 64 participating teams was just one set of dumbbells.

Then she shared a photo of the men’s weight room in comparison to a setting full of squat racks and original machines. Prince later reiterated the NCAA’s apology stating that the lack of amenities for the women was due to a lack of space, before turning around 270 degrees, revealing the vast, empty space around her.

Nearly half a century between the Rose and Prince college basketball careers, the same discrepancies were common.

“Given what happened two years ago in the women’s fourth final, that was the reality at the time, and it was accepted that we weren’t going to get what the guys were getting,” Rose said. “Given the opportunities now, it was supposed to happen in 1972 when the ninth title was passed. It has been a long journey.”

Even with the financial benefits that mathematicians have been entitled to since 1972, they are constantly being fought over as well.

When current Oklahoma State softball coach Kenny Jagowski left the University of Florida — a place where he believes female players are treated better than males — he couldn’t imagine the other side of that spectrum.

After arriving at OSU in 2015, Gajewski noticed that his players received only one meal a week from the university and received no daily allowance, which is a fixed allowance for players, a key feature of Title IX.

Although there is no commitment throughout the leadership on women’s sport after 50 years, the world and its people are becoming more accepting. After a conversation with then sporting director Mike Holder, Gajewski’s players were going to take advantage of what was owed to them.

“The program was just buying them fast food,” Gajewski said. I said, ‘It’s over, we’re going to provide meals. The first time players got a daily wage, they asked, “What is this?” We also called the basketball and football office to ask how they made their daily allowance because we didn’t know how.

“We followed what these guys did. Why should we be treated differently at all? This is the ninth title.”

Although for 50 years women have competed freely on grass, dirt, concrete and hardwood, playing on courts is yet to come.

“The biggest challenge is implementation,” Hartmann said. “Research shows that 75-80% of organizations are likely not to adhere to Title IX.”

chance path

NIL’s childhood in existence has created an ethical conversation on the net. Since college football players receive generational fortunes in the form of offers to transfer schools, women’s athletics have few of these problems.

Two years ago, college athletes were not allowed to sell their autograph or advertise a brand, but after the NCAA approved student athletes to make use of their name, image and likeness in July 2021, female student athletes immediately began taking advantage of a social media presence.

“The smart women in the brand make a real mark,” said Desiree Reed-Francois, Missouri’s athletic director. “NIL is this new frontier but a great opportunity for our student-athletes.

“The biggest social media following in the SEC is the LSU gymnast.”

LSU gymnast Olivia Dunn, with over 5 million followers on TikTok, is estimated to have made over $1 million in NIL money. Other female athletes, such as UCLA volleyball player Mac May, signed a deal with Mercedes-Benz, and Yukon Page Bakers basketball star became the first college athlete to become a partner with Gatorade.

The unique marketability and relationships on social media that female math students possess has provided opportunities for brand deals and the ability to earn millions while competing at a high level.

“People are interested in women’s sports,” said Beth Goetz, athletic director at Ball State University. “People want to see these amazing athletes compete and there is a financial interest there both on an institutional and individual level.”

Because of Title IX, women have competed at a high level in college athletics for half a century, and with NIL, they have proven that there is an interest in their sports, statistics backed up by TV ratings.

“You can’t convince me that we don’t offer more value than any other team we have here,” Gajewski said. “We’re in ESPN more than our soccer team. We’re getting fans, our game against OU blew up the NHL, and it was the second most-watched show that night.”

Game One of the 2022 Women’s College World Series drew nearly 2 million viewers on ESPN’s main channel, during the same time as the NBA Finals game. The week-long show averaged over 1 million viewers per game, for the third consecutive year.

Since the number of women’s sports in a university is determined by enrollment, according to Section IX, some schools, such as OSU, which are close to the threshold of needing to add another sport, are looking to volleyball, gymnastics, and hockey for potential future programs, three fast sports growth across the country.

“The cultural understanding of women’s sports has become very accepted,” Hartmann said. The World Softball Championships is a good example of how Americans would be hungry for it if women could play the sport. There is a desire to watch it, these are real athletes playing.”

end of the trip?

When incumbent President Richard Nixon signed Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, he fixed a problem from the administration that preceded him.

In 1964, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin.

Men of all races can enjoy the privileges assigned to them by the United States government, including access to education benefits.

But for the women, their time wouldn’t come until 1972 with Title IX.

Although Title IX has become known for its impact on women’s sports, the originally intended purpose continues to give opportunity to women across the country, including former student athletes.

“The sport has made me really competitive, and it has been good,” said Reed Francois. “I don’t think it is wrong for more than 40 CEOs of Fortune 500 companies to be former student maths. I know I wouldn’t be in office without IX and what it did for us. It’s part of America’s story.”

While a few women prior to Act IX had higher degrees, now in 2022, women are earning the majority of bachelor’s and master’s degrees, in part due to opportunities in Title IX.

More than 30 athletic directors across the Division 1 level are female, a far cry from 1990 when Rose became only the third female athletic director when she took her position at UNC Charlotte.

While many female athletic directors have stated that they believe work remains to be done in terms of expanding women’s professional athletics tournaments, opportunities for former female student athletes continue to grow through their vision and education.

The broadcast crew for the Women’s College Women’s World Series was composed almost entirely of former softball players, including Amanda Scarborough, Jessica Mendoza, and Michelle Smith.

Jennifer Pottrell, who graduated with honors from Harvard after playing college hockey, is now appearing on TNT broadcasts of NHL games.

Morgan Day will follow her first year playing with OSU by becoming a graduate assistant at Cowgirls.

Even for former female athletes who decide to pursue non-sports-related careers once their playing days are over, an athletic scholarship that allows them to compete in sports and earn a college degree has prepared themselves for the rest of their lives.

For 50 years, Act IX has allowed women to receive a college-level education and reach heights on the shoulders of those who came before. Since President Nixon signed his name on the dotted line, the ninth title has represented the same characteristics fans see in women in sports—competitiveness, capitalization, and grit.

“The ninth title deals with the position of women in society,” Hartmann said. “Not only do they have the opportunity to go to college, but they have opportunities to participate in sports. It not only prohibits gender discrimination, but makes it clear that when you make laws, it pays off in general society. Title IX has advanced the position of women in society.”

sports.ed@ocolly.com

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