1972 Wasn’t That Long Ago

Sports in my house only meant one thing, hockey. I grew up with it. I watched my brother play from the time I was a baby until my high school years. My dad and my brother still are involved in hockey in some way or another. Even though hockey was the sport in my house, I played soccer, volleyball, and basketball. Not hockey. I chose not to play hockey because my brother was so good and also because I didn’t want to be the only girl playing hockey. But a lot of girls play hockey, something I wasn’t aware of when I was 10.

In today’s world girls play all kinds of sports in school, in college, professionally, and the Olympics. My generation grew up with Serena and Venus Williams, Mia Hamm, Brandi Chastain, Dominique Moceanu and the 1996 Olympic Gymsast Team. We grew up with all these amazing female atheletes, a tradition that carries on today with people like Shawn Johnson, Lindsey Vonn, and Danica Patrick. In our time women athletes still fight sexism, but for the most part ,women have won the right to compete in the same sports as men and also the right to have girls teams all across the nation.

Many girls today don’t think about the history of female athletics when they are trying out for their school’s basketball team or soccer team, they just do it. But it wasn’t that long ago that there weren’t girl’s teams in most schools. Title IX changed that. Title IX was passed by Richard Nixon in 1972.  Title IX is not only the amendment that allowed girls to play sports but Title IX also has 10 other key areas that include things like Access to Higher Education, laws about Sexual Harassment, and Education for Pregnant and Parenting Students that don’t have anything to do with sports. Title IX in essence requires gender equity for girls and boys in all federally funded educational programs, which are most commonly seen in the creation of girl’s sports programs.

It’s amazing when you think about all the things that many of us girls take for granted, like sports teams and the right to equal educational opportunities, that were made possible by Title IX. A recent editorial comments on how many of the Olympians like Lindsey Vonn owe their opportunities in sports in large part to Title IX. All of us owe something to Title IX. I know that playing sports in school was defiantly one of the only things I enjoyed about school growing up. I never had to fight for my right to play on a school team and by the time my brother was finishing up his high school hockey, there was a girl goalie on the team.

Title IX gave girls so many opportunities, some that many of us didn’t know came from it. I see it here at school where girls get scholarships to play sports just like the boys. I see it when a woman is on the cover of Sports Illustrated and not in a bikini. And of course like anything else that changed society, there are still people who need convincing, even 40 years later.

Tonight at UMKC, an intergenerational panel of men and women will discuss Title IX at the event “Throwing Like a Girl” Since 1972.  Please come be a part of the discussion that will address sports participation before and after the passage of Title IX and what the future holds for female athletes.

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