By Devon White
Recently, the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) launched a campaign to end the violation of Title IX. The NWLC filed discriminatory complaints with the Office for Civil Rights, “against twelve school districts across the country for failing to provide girls with equal opportunities to play sports, in violation of Title IX.” Title IX is a federal law enacted in 1972 that prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded academic and athletic programs. The NWLC’s brief highlighted the benefits of sports, which include a decrease in health-related problems, higher self-esteem, and academic improvement amongst female athletes (PDF).
Female athletes are considered all around more successful according to recent research: “two studies suggest sports are the causal factor: girls who play sports are more likely to go to college, be employed, and grow up to be physically active, non-obese women. In one study, Dr. Betsey Stevenson found that more girls playing sports leads to more women in college and more women in the workforce.”
On December 8th, Blog to Rally for Girls‘ Sports Day challenged bloggers to answer: What did you win by playing sports? A Change.org columnist reflected that being the sole female player on an all-male soccer team brought out her inner feminist. Another blogger shared the lessons she learned while playing team sports: “Sports taught me perseverance, resilience, healthy conditioning, self-reliance, teamwork, and most importantly, the love of being active.” By writing or tweeting about their personal experiences, bloggers helped advocate and spread awareness about the importance and benefits of girls in sports.
Before Title IX, the participation level of high school girls and college women in sports was dismal. There has been considerable progress in women’s athletics since the 1960s, and second–wave feminism is largely to credit for that rise. But what about the generations of girls who still need access to equitable athletics that prior generations lacked? African-American female athletes are experiencing double the obstacles–their gender and race: African-American females represent less than 5% of all high school athletes, less than 10% of all college athletes, less than 2% of all coaches and less than 1% of all college athletics administrators.
Campaigns like Rally for Girls’ Sports Day remind us to celebrate and advocate athletic participation in girls. Breaking down gender barriers in sports can help raise awareness on other key issues that affect girls and women on and off the field. If you want to get involved in advocating for girls in sports, check out:
Black Women in Sport Foundation
National Girls and Women in Sports Day
Reviving Baseball in the Inner City (RBI) at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City