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Celebrating Four Decades of Title IX

By , SparkPeople Blogger
June 23, 2012 marked the 40th anniversary of the signing of national legislation known as Title IX that sought to create equal rights for boys and girls. Because of this legislation, countless women including myself have taken advantage of the ability to participate in a myriad of athletic opportunities that extend to all levels of competition and have reached far beyond the United States.
The proof of Title IX's impact lies far beyond any statistics regarding the number of girls that have participated in organizes athletics. Several weeks ago, the Ohio High School Athletic Association State Track and Field Championships took place at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium at The Ohio State University in Columbus Ohio. You may have heard about the teen runner that helped carry her competitor as she struggled to finish the long race. As a four-time competitor in that state meet (as a high jumper), I loved reading about the great example of sportsmanship at such a high level of competition. Watching it was even better!


The video reminded me of another unbelievable example of sportsmanship and character during a college softball game several years ago.

As a former college volleyball player, I understand the drive to win and respect these young women for their ability to do what is fair and right regardless of the cost to the outcome of the game. Both of these stories demonstrate just some of the life lessons women have learned through athletics because of Title IX. Here are a few other ways Title IX has changed things for women.
  • During the 1960, Rome Olympics women were not allowed to compete in any running distances longer than 800 meters.
  • In the 1970's, tennis was the most popular professional female sport but by the 1990's team sports such as basketball and football achieved popularity.
  • Britain's Princess Anne competed in equestrian events in the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games.
  • The 1,500-meter race became the new longest woman's distance at the 1972 Munich Olympics and the marathon was added to the 1984 Los Angeles Games and was won by Joan Benoit.
  • In the 1970's, less than 20 percent of running event finishers was female compared to more than 53 percent of finishers in 2011.
  • In 1984, gymnast Mary Lou Retton became the first woman athlete to be depicted on the front of the Wheaties cereal box.
  • Jackie Joyner-Kersee was the first woman athlete to make the cover of the Sports Illustrated magazine in 1987.
  • The Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) had its inaugural season in 1997.
  • Title IX was renamed the Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act in 2002 in recognition of her leadership related to sex discrimination in educational programs that led to change.
  • The Wimbledon tennis tournament announces equal prize money for men and women for the first time in 2007.
  • Over seven million women finished a road race in the United States during 2011.
  • Last year there were more than 200 running events strictly for women with the five largest being Nike Women's Half, Disney Princess Half, St. Luke's Women's Fitness Celebration 5K, MORE/FITNESS Half and Tufts Health Plank 10K.
With the 2012 London Olympic Games opening ceremony only a few weeks away, now is a great time to get inspired to try new things, test your skills, or set new fitness goals. Here are some resources to help you find your inner athlete and set it free.
Are Your Fitness Goals Realistic?
5 Fitness Feats that are Worth the Training
The Ultimate Walking Guide
How to Run with Proper Form and Technique
Spark Your Way to a 5K
Limited Mobility Lifestyle Center
Find the Perfect Workout Shoe for You
Are You Wearing the Right Sports Bra? A Guide for Women of All Shapes and Sizes
6 Things to Look for When Buying Exercise Apparel
We would love to hear your story of how you have benefited from Title IX. What doable-yet-challenging fitness goal will you set to enliven and refocus your workouts?

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I'm thrilled that there are more open doors for women in sports. But I can't help but rue the fact that cutting men's teams seems to be the means by which this is afforded. in 1984 the US won gold in Olympic Men's Gymnastics, now there are fewer than 32 men's gymnastics college teams. There are 83 women's gymnastics college teams, even though female gymnasts tend to peak before or in the early years they would attend college. Male gymnasts tend to be college age or slightly older.
I think that we need to value activity, fitness, sport and competition for all. Not value it in men while denegrating it as unfeminine. Not providing scholarships for women while cutting opportunities for men. I was a varsity athlete in college and I long for my sons to have similar opportunities.
And as the mom of three sons, I see that they benefit greatly from sport and lots of outside activity. The benefits are different for girls and boys, but are essential for both. I can't help but look at the era in which recess and school PE was curtailed and match it with the rise in ADD medication. Report
In 1973 University of Miami gave out the first 15 scholarships for women's sports. I did get one of the first four ever given for swimming. (Miami gave out all four that first year, & June 23 happens to be my birthday!).

In May (7th) of this year Sports Illustrated devoted most of the issue to Title IX. They interviewed me for the last article, which if you missed it can be found on-line.
Last night was the last night for the Olympic Trials in swimming. I kept chuckling when Rowdy would exclaim about the swimmers being "just a teen". Back in 72 when I was at the Trials, most of the "women" competing were teens. With the advent of Title IX, that's when women competing in their 20's blossomed because they had a reason to swim beyond age 18.

Go USA! Report
I'm glad you wrote this blog. I think many of the young women today don't realize that the opportunities they have today didn't always exist and that it was a hard long road to get there. They also need to realize that we need to keep vigilant about these things, or they could be taken away. Report
Of course, it's nothing to do with Title IX, but I was disappointed not to see a reference to the historic match between Billy Jean King and Bobby Riggs. As a young woman at the time I found it very encouraging and validating, even though I played just for fun and never considered myself athletic. Report
"The best part is that female athletes graduate at a higher percentage than any other student demo! Go Title IX." I borrowed this from a friend who wrote it on my DD's FB page. She was a college volleyball player as well! So many more benefits than when I was younger. Report
It's great that women can now participate in a myriad of athletic opportunities..HOWEVER...women are still being paid considerably less than men for the same work. It happened in Congress and is still happening in the White House. SPEAKING OF CONGRESS....have you noticed the makeup of Congress. Hard to believe women are reportedly 52% of the US population. Report
I was long out of college by the time this landmark legislation became law, but that never stopped me from participating in the "acceptable" sports for women, gymnastics, field hockey, basketball, volleyball and other intramural sports. You don't need a law to be active; just to compete on the same field as men. Competition against oneself is a goal in itself. Report
Well I have seen this working in my son's high school. Girls are now allowed to be on the wrestling team and there are a few of them who are exceptional at the sport. The down side I have seen is that some of the boys can be exceptionally rough on these girls and some of them boarded on being abusive. Report
Yay! Title IX! Now if only we could get that Equal Rights Amendment! Report
It may have taken me a long time to appreciate the sport of running, but I am so thrilled that women today have a choice to participate in athletics if they choose! Hard to believe it's only been 28 years since women were allowed to run the marathon distance in the Olympics...we've come a long way! Report
Just goes to show, you don't necessarily have to come first to be a winner. Well done ladies! Report
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