50 years of Title IX: What is it and what has it accomplished for women’s sports?
Title IX continues to celebrate women pursuing their athletic and academic opportunities, driving gender equity nationwide for generations to come.
June 23, 2022 is not just another day on the calendar.
It’s one of the most crucial days in the history of sports; a day that marks the 50th anniversary of a law that changed the daily lives of American women year after year, specifically involving education programs and sports.
Title IX, a 37-word civil rights law that was introduced by Rep. Patsy Mink of Hawaii in 1972, was passed into American law to help create gender equality in sport.
What is Title IX?
The Title IX bill states:
“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
With the simple inclusion of the word “on the basis of sex,” that bill required every school, local or state educational agency receiving federal funding to provide equal opportunities for both men and women, both in sports and in the classroom. High schools and universities were required to comply with the bill within three years, while elementary schools within one.
What has Title IX accomplished for women’s sports?
While the bill’s primary purpose was to address discrimination in education, it ended up changing the narrative for women in sports. Before Title IX, women were disregarded in sports, and were not nearly as supported as men were, however, after the bill was put into practice, more equal playing field for male and female athletes was created. For instance, 30,000 women competed in NCAA athletics opposed to 170,000 men participating the same year amid the legislation in 1972.
Title IX and its relation to the USWNT
Not only did Title IX open the doors for women in the playing field, but it also had an enormous impact on collegiate sports and female athletes’ success, especially women’s soccer.
Dedicating resources and investments to women’s soccer in the collegiate ranks, the sport grew rapidly with the NCAA holding its first national championship in 1982.
With 12 participating teams at the time, the University of North Carolina (Tar Heels) dominated the sport for years, winning the first 3 national titles and 16 of the first 19. Their success was the foundation of the establishment of the United States Women’s National Team only three years later.