Fifty years after Title IX, the world of women’s sport is changing

NEW YORK, June 22 (Reuters) – Half a century after the passage of the iconic US Title IX Act, Olympians and pioneers say legislation has profoundly changed the world’s women’s sport.

The law, passed on June 23, 1972, requires U.S. programs that receive federal funding to provide equal opportunities to participate – including in all sports.

Girls’ participation in high school has increased by more than 1,000% since then, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Participation in university sports has jumped by more than 500%, according to the Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF).

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There was an explosion in the participation of women in the Olympic Games.

“The impact of Title IX on the US team is profound,” Sarah Hirschland, chief executive of the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC), told Reuters.

The participation of women in the US Summer Olympics jumped 310% of the IX title, while their Winter Olympics increased by 300%.

“We are witnessing remarkable progress in the time of US women, who make up a larger percentage of our Olympic delegations, and the overall success of the team with medals,” Hirschland said. “It’s great for the US team and great for women’s sports in general.”

The number of women’s competitions at the Summer Games doubled from 43 in 1972 to 86 in 1992, according to the USOPC, with the Winter Games increasing from 12 events to 23 over the same period.

“It changed the landscape for women, not just in the United States, but around the world, because the world was watching what the United States was doing,” said pioneering marathon runner Catherine Suitzer in an interview before the New York Road Runners Mini 10K.

Switzer was the first woman to run the Boston Marathon as a registered athlete after challenging the ban on women runners and competing under her initials in 1967. She also lobbied for a women’s marathon at the 1984 Olympics before her debut.

“Now there was a generation of little girls who grew up realizing they had a right to an opportunity, and they took advantage of that opportunity,” Sweitzer said. “So they can head to the Olympics.”

Women make up almost half of the athletes at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics – 48.7% – a 45% increase from the Rio Summer Games, according to the WSF. He predicts a “high probability” of equal participation of women in 2024 read more

However, work remains to be done to achieve a truly level playing field. Progress is felt disproportionately, with students from marginalized backgrounds receiving fewer benefits.

A WSF report last month found that girls in mostly white high schools typically see 82% of the athletic ability that boys do. This falls to 67% in schools where colored students are in the majority.

“We need to work to support and support our athletes with disabilities and, obviously, to give more opportunities to our BIPOC community (blacks, locals and people of color),” said WSF Executive Director Danet Leighton.

This month, the WSF partnered with the National Center for Women’s Law (NWLC) and the Billy Jean King Leadership Initiative to launch Demand IX, a campaign for stronger Title IX protections.


Initially, the law was aimed at equalizing academic differences.

“Initially, Title IX was not about sports, but sport is really turning into an ignition point,” Laura Mogulscu, curator of women’s history collections at the New York Historical Society, told Reuters.

His beginnings overlap with critical movements in women’s sports, including tennis, when nine of King’s best women, led by King, embark on their own professional tour after seeing that the awards are disproportionately distributed to male athletes.

“The gender battle was in 1973, and just a few months later (Billy Jean King) testified in Congress in support of the Women’s Equality in Education Act, which helps fund programs that implement Title IX in schools,” he said. Mogulscu, who co-curated the exhibition “Title IX: Activism on and Off the Field”.

King defeated former world number one Bobby Riggs in an extremely high-profile match called the “Battle of the Sexes”, widely regarded as a strong boost to women’s sport.

For Dina Castor, a 2004 bronze medalist and former record holder in the US Women’s Marathon, Title IX meant she was “unaware of missed opportunities.”

“When I was 11, I was sitting in the living room of my parents’ house watching Joan Benoit Samuelson enter and win the first Olympic medal in the women’s marathon (1984),” she said.

“I don’t think I knew the significance of that when I was sitting there as a young girl. But I felt the importance of it.”

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Report by Amy Tennery in New York Edited by Bill Bercrot

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