Happy Birthday, Title IX!

Posted by on Aug 10, 2022 in People and Culture, United States

Do you play a sport at school? If so, you are probably impacted by Title IX: groundbreaking legislation that passed fifty years ago this summer. This week, btw examines this important legislation, why it matters, and how it has affected generations of young athletes. 

What Is Title IX? 

Title IX was part of a bill that became law on June 23, 1972. It was the ninth part of the Education Amendments of 1972. These amendments were intended to address a weakness in the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That original law did not specifically prohibit sex-based discrimination for employees of educational institutes. The text of Title IX is short, but it has had a big impact: “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.”  

What Was the Impact? 

Because Title IX could be broadly applied, President Nixon instructed the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare to create specific regulations that directed the laws use. Since the 1970s, one adaptation of Title IX is in college athletics. Over time this resulted in a growing equality of participation and funding for both men’s and women’s athletic programs at universities that receive federal funding. 

Fifty years ago, the world of sports–including school sports–was largely dominated by men and boys. Girls’ sports programs, when they existed at all, were often overlooked and underfunded. In 1972, only 30,000 women competed in NCAA athletic programs, compared to 170,000 men. Since then, the gap has closed significantly. In 2020, the number of female athletes participating in NCAA athletic programs was 222,920, compared to 281,699 male athletes.  

Coach gives female High School basketball team a pep talk on the bench
The 50th anniversary of Title IX has caused lots of changes for athletics and other aspects of social life.

The application of this legislation goes beyond equalizing the number of athletes. The equal-funding requirement applies to everything from equipment, supplies, and locker rooms; to travel allowances, publicity, and other support services. Female athletes must receive the same equipment, play time, and scholarship opportunities as their male counterparts. If not, then that school will lose its federal funding. These rules apply to school districts, charter schools, and for-profit schools. 

Female athletes now have access to an estimated three million sport opportunities that they didn’t have before Title IX. But boys still receive roughly one million sport opportunities that girls don’t. And while 75 percent of all high school boys participate in a sport, only sixty percent of girls do. Why does this matter? Participating in sports teaches important team-building skills, helps you learn how to prioritize your time, and offers exercise to strengthen the body and the mind.  

Dig Deeper Title IX deals with gender-based, but not race-based, discrimination in sports. Visit the Women’s Sports Foundation or another similar website to learn more about race-based discrimination in athletics. Write a short paragraph describing what you’ve learned.