I am a female athlete. I have played soccer for my entire life and currently hold a captain position on my high school team. But, had I been born just 20 years earlier, I may not even have a girls soccer team at my high school.

It’s hard to imagine that just forty years ago, young women were not admitted into many colleges and universities, athletic scholarships were rare, and math and science was a realm reserved for boys. In every area of athletics, girls and women faced discrimination, were warned that physical activity was unfeminine, and were depicted as physically unattractive.

I asked my mom about it and learned that her high school didn’t even have a girls soccer team (so she played field hockey instead).

My, and so many other girls’ lives would be completely different without high school sports.

Don’t get me wrong, women’s sports have been around way longer than when Title Nine was introduced, but women were not even remotely given the same athletic opportunities as men.

Title Nine states that: 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.

Prior to Title IX's enactment, men were given opportunities such as scholarships and funding while women were not viewed as equal. Pre- Title Nine in 1971, only 1% of the athletic budgets went to female sports on the college level...1%!

Marginalized, girls’ teams had to raise their own money through bake sales or carwashes, wear their school gym clothes or make their own uniforms.

The low budgets for equipment, uniforms, and other expenses made sports unappealing and difficult for women. Before the implementation of Title Nine, high school male athletes outnumbered female athletes 12 to 1; fewer than 295,000 girls participated in high school varsity athletics. After Title IX, that number leaped to 2.8 million! There has also been a dramatic increase in the broadcasting of women’s sports, however the ladies still don’t garner as much screen time as men do.

Though views differ about the impact of Title IX, discussion typically focuses on whether or not Title IX has resulted in increased athletic opportunities for females, and if it has resulted in decreased athletic opportunities for males.

Some believe that the increase in athletic opportunity for girls in high school has come at the expense of boys' athletics. However, Title IX does not require reductions in opportunities for male student-athletes.

The purpose is to create the same opportunity and quality of treatment for both female and male student-athletes.

The passage of the bill got very little attention until one event brought the issue of women’s sports and feminism to the national stage. Billie Jean King, a well known tennis player, campaigned for higher pay and professional treatment for women tennis players. She is most famous for defeating former Wimbledon champion Bobbie Riggs in the “Battle of the Sexes.”

The 1973 match captivated and changed the way women looked at themselves. There is a movie capturing this event to be released in November entitled “Battle of the Sexes.”

Title IX has changed women’s athletics for the better, and to all of the female athletes out there, be thankful that women before us fought for our rights to play.

 

Until next time!

 

— Jenna Schmidt is a senior at North Pocono High School. Please email jennaschmidt16@gmail.com with ideas for future articles.