Increasing Women's Presence in Athletics
Title IX has helped girls and women participate in interscholastic and intercollegiate athletics in far greater numbers than they had in the past. When Title IX became law, dramatic change was needed to level the playing fields of this nation's schools and to change the perception of the place of girls and women on them. Just one year before the enactment of Title IX, in 1971, a Connecticut judge was allowed by law to disallow girls from competing on a boys' high school cross country team even though there was no girls' team at the school. And that same year, fewer than 300,000 high school girls played interscholastic sports. Today, that number is 2.4 million.
Girls and women also are increasingly participants in sports that have traditionally been seen as out of bounds for women, including lacrosse, wrestling, soccer, rugby and ice hockey. In one sport that is more and more a favorite for young girls-- soccer--the results have led to a World Cup championship. In 1996, the U.S. national soccer team captured the first-ever women's Olympic medal in this sport before a crowd of 76,481, and in doing so established its position as the world's premier women's soccer program.
Before the passage of Title IX, athletic scholarships for college women were rare, no matter how great their talent. After winning two gold medals in the 1964 Olympics, swimmer Donna de Varona could not obtain a college swimming scholarship: for women, they did not exist. It took time and effort to improve the opportunities for young women: two years after Title IX was voted into law, an estimated 50,000 men were attending U.S. colleges and universities on athletic scholarships--and fewer than 50 women. In 1973, the University of Miami (Florida) awarded the first athletic scholarships to women--a total of 15 in golf, swimming, diving, and tennis. Today, college women receive about one-third of all athletic scholarship dollars.
Here it is important to recognize that there is no mandate under Title IX that requires a college to eliminate men's teams to achieve compliance. The thought that "if women are to gain opportunities, then men must lose opportunities," presents a false dichotomy. As with other educational aspects of Title IX, and according to the expressed will of Congress, the regulation is intended to expand opportunities for both men and women.