The year was 1972, a mere 45 years ago, yet life in America and the world was quite different. The average income was $11,800, and the average cost of a new home was only $27,550It wasn’t all bad however, because a small clause called Title IX of the Educations Amendments Act of 1972 was written into law in the United States.
Coming in at 36 words, Title IX reads:
“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
Title IX was first introduced in 1970 by Oregon congresswoman Edith Green and Indiana Senator Birch Bayh. Green and Bayh kept their efforts quiet and wanted the legislation to pass mostly unnoticed. Title IX had the potential to open up countless opportunities for female high school and college students and graduates alike. Most lawmakers thought it would only affect employment at federally funded schools, but it was capable of so much more.
In 1972, the legislation was signed into law by President Richard Nixon, thus changing female athletic participation and opportunities forever. What Title IX required was school compliance in treating both sexes equally. It didn’t need male and female sports to be identical, but it required equality in three aspects: Both sexes needed similar participation opportunities, athletic scholarships, and equal treatment of male and female teams.
Title IX’s Impact on Athletics
Before 1972, females were generally excluded from athletic opportunities in high school and colleges. Women only received 2 percent of a collegiate athletic budget, and scholarships were nonexistent. Since then, Title IX has increased female athletic participation substantially.
In 1971, immediately before the legislation, less than 300,000 females were involved in high school sports. That was only 7 percent of all high school athletes, an incriminating percentage. Further, fewer than 30,000 women were involved in collegiate sports.
Within 40 years, the number of female high school athletes has grown to 3.2 million; 41 percent of all high school athletes. As for college athletics, the number of women involved exceeded 190,000. As of 2010, 48 percent of athletic scholarships given at Division I schools were awarded to female athletes. Not only are these impressive figures, but male participation has not changed and continues to grow as well, proving male and female sports can share funding and space.
It is important to note the secondary benefits Title IX creates outside of athletic programs. The social benefits of athletics are proven, and females should have access to those benefits. Athletic programs usually positively affect an athlete’s short- and long-term health. Women who play sports at younger ages have a 7 percent lower risk of obesity later in life. While this is a modest number, other activities or programs lack to offer a similar claim.
Athletes also have a decreased risk of other diseases, such as heart disease or osteoporosis. The years have shown that females who play sports are also less likely to become pregnant during their school career. Another huge benefit is that female athletes are 29 percent less likely to smoke. Thanks to Title IX, male and female student athletes now have equal opportunities to partake in their passion and enjoy the benefits of organized athletics.
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