Women athletes have been fighting for equal opportunityfor years. Title IX, a 37-word law, paved the way to do just that. The passingof Title IX has helped provide women with more equality than ever before.
Priorto Title IX, there were a scarce number of opportunities for participation thatexisted for women athletes. For example, the only physical activity that girls couldparticipate in for the most part was cheerleading. There was a shortage ofwomen athletes competing in NCAA sports; there were only around 30,000 femaleathletes competing in comparison to the 150,000 male athletes. Only 1 in 27girls played high school sports. The National Collegiate Athletic Association waslargely to blame for this. The National Collegiate Athletic Association, alsoknown as the NCAA, was formed in 1906 to design and implement rules in men’sfootball.
The NCAA became the elite “ruling body of college athletics and offeredzero athletic scholarships for women and also held no championships for women’steams. Furthermore, facilities, supplies and funding were all lacking for womenathletes. ” (history.
com) Title IX was devised to rectify these imbalances and administerequal rights and quality for women athletes. The road to equality for women in sport has been an extensiveand rough one. The journey for equality began when Richard Nixon enacted TitleIX of the Education Amendments in 1972.
The sponsors of the law were EdithGreen, the House of Representatives, and Birch Bayh, the Senate. This law statedthat, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, beexcluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected todiscrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federalfinancial assistance.” Essentially, Title IX prohibited sex discriminationin any educational program or activity receiving any type of federal financialaid. Although initially this law was designed to increase federal funding, it nowis more closely associated with gender equality in sports. By gender equalityin sports, Title IX specifies that “colleges anduniversities must provide opportunity for intercollegiate competition as wellas team schedules which equally reflect the competitive abilities of male andfemale athletes.” The followingfactors are put into consideration when determining whetherequal opportunities in athletics are available: equipment and supplies, scheduling of gamesand practice time, travel and per diem allowances, opportunity for coaching andacademic tutoring, assignment and compensation of coaches and tutors, lockerrooms and other facilities, medical and training services, housing and diningservices, and publicity.
After the passage of Title IX, Congress “built in asix-year period for secondary and post-secondary schools to achieve compliance.The date for compliance by colleges and universities was 1978”.There were numerous events that took place after thepassing of Title IX that influenced women athletes across the US.
Two majorevents were the Bobbie vs. Bobby tennis match and the lawsuit of Blair vs. Washington. The famous tennismatch of Bobbie vs. Bobby took place about a year after Title IX was enacted. BobbyRiggs, a 55-year-old man thought that he could still beat any woman player.
Riggs felt that “the best way to handle women is to keep them pregnant andbarefoot.” (http://www.history.com/news/billie-jean-king-wins-the-battle-of-the-sexes-40-years-ago)After all of Riggs jabbing, Billie Jean King, a woman, faced Riggs. Not onlydid she face him, but dominated him fair and square in front of 30,000 fans.
This crowd was the largest in history to ever watch a tennis match. This matchis alleged to be what sparked a boom in women’s sport. Another major win for Title IX happened in 1979 when theNorthwest Women’s Law Center won in a lawsuit against Washington StateUniversity. This lawsuit is known as Blair vs. Washington State University.
The winning basically forced the school to comply with Title IX. Women’sathletes during this time were still not being taken seriously. The athleticdirector at the time was having to make 1,200 dollars stretch to cover theexpenses for volleyball, gymnastics, basketball, field hockey, tennis andskiing while the male athletes were being treated to private locker rooms, fullresources of the athletic departments and chartered busses. With thetestimonies and support of other athletes, coaches, and educators and the helpof Sue Durrant, a coach and faculty member represented the coaches andathletes, Karen Blair, the lead plaintiff, was able to win the lawsuit.