Happy 40th Anniversary, Title IX!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Did you play sports growing up? Or have friends who did? If so, there's a good chance that those opportunities were strongly influenced by Title IX, the anti-discrimination law celebrating its 40th anniversary today. If you aren't familiar with Title IX, or how it likely influenced your ability to participate in school sports, today is the perfect opportunity to learn more.

As I explained in a post a few days ago on celebrating the power of the female athlete, Title IX was designed to protect individuals from sex-based discrimination in education programs that receive federal funding. Clarifications to the original law resulted in the effect Title IX is most known for today -- universities that receive federal funding must make sports programs, and levels of sports competition, available to both sexes equally.

Title IX - Woman Playing Tennis

As is often the case with laws and regulations, many people are affected without really ever knowing anything about the root of the effects they see. After spending many years as a higher education policy advocate, and many more years as a political law attorney, I've had the opportunity to see Title IX at work, close up. The existence of this landmark law has preserved sports programs for women in the face of many obstacles and challenges, resulting in thousands of women getting a chance to grow through competitive sports.

Budget cuts and financial difficulties have plagued universities for years, leading to tense budget meetings where programs are systematically evaluated for possible cuts. I've sat through many of those budget meetings over the years. Title IX has ensured that women's sports programs could not be cut in favor of more financially lucrative men's programs.

In these particularly dark budgetary times, I have no doubt that, without the protections of Title IX, an entire generation of young women may have been deprived of the opportunity to compete. Instead, we see women who are self-confident, determined, team-oriented and responsible thanks to the skills they learned as part of their affiliation with sports.

So, while you are enjoying your weekend, take a moment to think about how Title IX has affected you and those around you. And, on this 40th anniversary, let's give a little thanks for how Title IX will continue to make an impact for years to come.

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Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Nike via Glam Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Nike.