Happy Birthday, Title IX!
Title IX, the landmark regulation that fostered thousands of female athletes, celebrates its 40th birthday this week.
The measure, authored by then Sen. Birch Bay (D-Ind.) and enacted in 1972, bans gender-based discrimination in education programs and programs that receive federal assistance.
In practice, Title IX meant an end to sports discrimination in schools. It wasn’t possible any longer for boys’ sports to get vastly more attention and funding than girls’ sports. Female teams who didn’t even have a place to change into their uniforms got locker rooms, and the number of programs, as well as the money spent on them, became equal.
And the benefits go beyond equal access to the court and the playing fields. Sports are known to foster self-confidence and a spirit of teamwork – not to mention fitness. Without Title IX, it’s unlikely that professional women’s sports organizations, like the WNBA, now in its 16th season, would exist.
The opportunities stemming from Title IX have become such a part of life for younger women, says one coach, Carla Harris-Curry, that they don’t even realize their opportunities never existed. “They think what they have,” she told ESPN, “is what they are supposed to have.”
Happy birthday, Title IX!