It's back to school time and varsity sports are gearing up. Back where I come from, varsity sports is number one - pretty much like it is on "Friday Night Lights." The entire community gets all riled up. Rivalries continue through the years and decades as trophies like the cowbell get passed from town to town. There's nothing like a night of high drama, screaming at the top of your lungs and banging on the bleachers for your home team - all for only about five bucks!
Some of us may have the pleasure of not remembering it, but there was a time, back before 1972, when girls who wanted to play sports were mostly looked upon as lesbians and it wasn't a good thing either.
According to the National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education (NCWGA), only about 7% of all high school athletes in the US of A were girls during the 1971-1972 school year that came immediately prior to the passage of the Act.
Thank goodness LGBT people and all women have come a long way since those days. The NCWGA reported 41% of all athletes in high schools were girls as of the 2010-2011 school year and this number was exceeded by a bit in 2013.
The law itself is pretty simple.
"No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subject to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."
The law has been a GOOD DEAL for young women all over the country. Studies have shown that females athletes do better in school, are healthier, less likely to smoke or get pregnant. Working on teams and in individual discipline helps build strong leadership skills.
My vice-prez sister (pictured above) attributes varsity sports as one of the main training grounds that resulted in her ability to lead teams effectively. She was also able to participate in collegiate sports and this helped pay for her post-secondary education. Prior to Title IX, athletic scholarships for women were nonexistent.
While there has been some controversy, the fact remains that the law does not require that opportunities for boys and men to participate in sports be lessened and, in fact, they haven't been. There is still work needed, however, in order to make the benefits of Title IX available to all women and girls. Stats show that opportunities are not equal among different nationalities and ethnicities and still lag behind those of the male population.
Title IX was signed into law on June 23, 1972. Because of this law and those who helped make it happen, millions of girls and young women have had a better deal for the last 44 years. Let's keep working to make it an even better deal.
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(Jennifer Caldwell is a an actress and an active member of SAG-AFTRA, serving on several committees. She is a published author of short stories and news articles and is a featured contributor to CityWatch. Her column at www.RecessionCafe.wordpress.com is dishing up good deals, recipes and food for thought. Jennifer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jennifercald - Twitter: @checkingthegate ... And her website: jenniferhcaldwell.com)