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Celebration of the Tomboy – The 40th Anniversary of Title IX

In a conversation with a friend today I had mentioned how Title IX was celebrating its 40th year. There was a long silence, maybe a deep breath…and it struck me. Not everyone knows what Title IX is, how foolish of me. For those of you who are not part of my Ponytail Posse of female athletes let me tell you the story of how the American tomboy was encourage to flourish. On June 23, 1972 it passed as part of the Education Amendments Act. Title IX requires gender equality for women and men in all educational institutions, public or private, receiving federal funding. The schools are judged in 10 key areas including employment, higher education and athletics.

While Title IX is best known for its impact on high school and collegiate athletics, the original statute made no explicit mention of sports. Title IX applies to an entire school or institution if any part of that school receives federal funds; hence, athletic programs are subject to Title IX, even though there is very little direct federal funding of school sports.

Has Title IX really had that great an impact on women’s athletics? One study compiled data that stated that the number of women in high school sports had increased by a factor of nine, while the number of women in college sports had increased by more than 450% since 1977¹. A 2008 study of intercollegiate athletics showed that women’s collegiate sports has grown to 9,101 teams, or 8.65 per school. The five most frequently offered college sports for women are, in order: (1) Basketball, 98.8% of schools have a team, (2) Volleyball, 95.7%, (3) Soccer, 92.0%, (4) Cross Country, 90.8%, and (5) Softball, 89.2%².

Because Title IX only addresses public and private schools that receive federal funding, several states have enacted similar laws to prohibit discrimination based on sex regardless of whether the school receives federal funding. You guessed it! Illinois is one of those states!!! The other states are: Alaska, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Washington, and Wisconsin.

The Chicago Sky, Chicago’s WNBA team, is doing their part to recognize this monumental boost to women in athletics. As part of the Title IX celebration this year, the Sky will offer a variety of programming, events, and exclusive ticket offers for fans. The Sky will select nine women who have inspired change across Illinois to be part of a Title IX Team. They Sky will accept nominations for the Title IX Team starting on February 1 through August 1; nomination forms are available on www.chicagosky.net. Please, if you feel you know someone inspiring change in women’s sports in Illinois speak up!

A special $40.00 Ticket Package will run throughout the season in honor of the landmark Title IX legislation. The ticket package includes 2 tickets and 2 Sky Title IX Commemorative t-shirts for any 2012 Sky home game. The Sky will also sell special $9 dollar tickets in certain sections of the arena for the Title IX game on August 17. Lastly, through the Sky Cares Foundation, companies and individuals will have the opportunity to sponsor nine girls to attend a Chicago Sky game for $81.

On a personal note I have to say thank you to the women who have blazed the trails before me. It seems in every aspect of my life I have chosen paths that would have been very difficult had I lived a generation earlier. Strong women came before me and fought their way into the firehouse (my career), into sports (my passion), and have made loving who you love easier for the world to respect (my heart). Looking back at what the generations before me have done makes me ask myself how can I improve, for the next generation, the situations still causing hardships that endure and injure young women. Remembering what it took to get us where we are today is just one little way I can help us all stop from forgetting just how lucky we are and It Just Keeps Getting Better.

Linda Jean Carpenter and R. Vivian Acosta, Women in Intercollegiate Sport: A Longitudinal National Study Twenty-Nine Year Update 1977-2006 [1] [2]

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About The Athlesbian

Meg was born and raised in Chicago where she became an avid sports fan the moment she laid her eyes on her first ball. She has a knack for picking up any sport quickly as most four sport high school athletes would. Meghan played two sports in college and spent her post college years playing women’s pro football, capturing a national title, before having to quit due to injury. She still plays numerous sports in rec leagues around the city and boasts at a recent team tryout knocked out 51 consecutive push-ups in a minute. Always willing to try something new she just played in her first rugby match. Meghan currently works as a fire-medic and is finishing her Master’s degree from University of Chicago, and no, unfortunately, its not in sports reporting!

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