Without the existence of Title IX, the world of women’s sports as we know it would not exist. As a result of this monumental act, the number of girls who compete in high school sports has grown ten-fold, from 300,000 in 1972 to over 3 million in 2011. There is still a lot of work to do to create equal access for all girls in sport, specifically girls of color, and our strides towards achieving Goal Five are just beginning.
So, what is Title IX? By definition, Title IX is a federal law that states: “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.” It was enacted in an effort to give equal rights to women in publicly funded institutions; and as an unintended result, gave all women access to sports. Oops? We’re cool with it.
Unfortunately, it has become all-too-normalized to see women's collegiate athletic teams given inferior treatment to the men’s teams despite Title IX. From the NCAA March Madness tournament weight rooms and accommodations, to ignored allegations of sexual assault on college campuses, the list goes on. The line between right and wrong has blurred, and there is a lack of accountability for institutions to actually uphold the protections that are “guaranteed” under this important act.
Even MORE unfortunately, the effects of this negligence often follow female athletes through the pro leagues, and through life. We are all well-aware of the wage discrepancies between the Men’s and Women's U.S. National teams, correct? Yeah, we don’t need to get into the weeds on that one. The point is, despite Title IX, society continues to fall short of its promise to protect and serve women, and we’re over it.
So we will do as women do: we band together, and we create the change we want to see in our lives. The best way to support women’s sports is to quite literally support women’s sports. Watch games, repost the highlights and W’s on your Instagram story, and create space for the visibility we deserve but often lack. Read about The Fan Project, and how you (as a fan) can take small steps that make a huge impact. Title IX may have instigated change from the start, but ultimately we are the catalysts in the fight for Equal Play.
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