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Title IX At 40: Changing Lives Daily

Title IX At 40: Changing Lives Daily

Today marks the 26th annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day. The theme of this year’s celebration is Title IX at 40: In it for the Long Run and it’s one that carries special weight with me.

I grew up in the shadow of Title IX. I turn 38 this year and am quite certain the life I’m so privileged to have would simply not be if it were not for the existence and influence of Title IX. It’s not just that I grew up a young athlete playing competitive soccer–an identity only made possible by Title IX and in leagues that did not exist prior to Title IX– it is that the impact of athletics on my life cannot be overstated.

Decades of participating in athletes taught me to love my body. To respect my body. To OWN my body. It was mine. All mine. It was strong, fast, and confident. That sense of self-respect translated to the halls of my junior high and high school and helped push back against an onslaught of hyper-sexualized messaging and pressure to “dumb down” my ambition or to starve my athletic build to one more “desirable”. Trust me. It would have been easy to just play along with it all. So many of my friends did.

Instead, decades playing soccer taught me leadership and accountability, all handy skills when trying to evade peer pressure. It taught me to be competitive, to play hard and fight fair, even when others wouldn’t.

Title IX taught me how to be a woman.

This was especially important growing up without a mother around. Athletics gave me community and family and frankly, kept me out of a lot of trouble.

Those survival skills were the natural result of a culture that insisted women and girls be treated as equals in access and opportunity–no more no less. Yet that culture is under attack and the significant gains made thanks to Title IX are at risk due to funding cuts and a belief that “we’ve come far enough.”

The thing is, we haven’t come nearly far enough.

Despite the stunning advances made in the 40 years since Title IX was enacted, high school girls still receive 1.3 million fewer participation opportunities than do boys, and evidence suggests that the money spent on girls’ sports programs lags significantly behind the money spent on boys’ programs. Those opportunities, my opportunities, should be commonplace. They should be routine. But they are not. Not yet. Which is why a day like today is so critically important.

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Photo from KG Sand Soccer via flickr.

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12 comments

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10:02AM PST on Dec 6, 2012

Thank you for sharing.

7:09AM PDT on Jul 29, 2012

I'm shocked! I didn't know that still forty years ago women were denied education in the US. (I thought the US was a civilized country, but probably I was wrong...)

9:41PM PST on Feb 9, 2012

Cool, thanks for sharing.

12:58PM PST on Feb 7, 2012

The proposed law requiring disclosure of sports dollars spent, participants, dollars earned by gender for each school could help elevate the remaining disparities to get the attention they deserve towards schools becoming fully compliant.

8:23AM PST on Feb 2, 2012

I love Title IX!

8:20AM PST on Feb 2, 2012

micheal m. can u write something else beside these two lines

7:39AM PST on Feb 2, 2012

There is a bill in the House to require schools to be transparent about sports-both participant numbers and dollars by gender to be accessible; no companion bill in the senate yet.

6:10AM PST on Feb 1, 2012

Hooray for Title IX! I expect its gains to continue, especially as I have seen the positive effects of female sports opportunities. I pray that we see one another as humans, rather than confining people to observable and stereotypical roles.

5:31AM PST on Feb 1, 2012

signed

4:29AM PST on Feb 1, 2012

Thanks for the article.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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Colleen H. Colleen H. is an Online Campaigner with Care2 and a recent transplant to San Francisco from the East... more
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