By Ken Reed
The beginnings of what might be the greatest women’s soccer team of all-time can be traced back to June 23, 1972 when Title IX became the law of the land.
Title IX is a public policy initiative that was driven by Senator Birch Bayh of Indiana and Congresswoman Patsy Mink of Hawaii. It was designed to prohibit high schools and colleges that receive federal funding from discriminating on the basis of gender — in any program or activity, including sports.
When Title IX became law in 1972, less than 700 girls played high school soccer in the United States. In 2018, there were 390,482 girls playing soccer across the USA.
Given those numbers, it’s hard to imagine the United States winning the women’s World Cup this past weekend without Title IX.
The growth in sports participation by girls goes well beyond the soccer pitch, however. Only one in 27 high school girls played sports of any kind in 1972. Today, more than 3 million high school girls — one in two — play high school sports.
That said, the positive ramifications of Title IX stretch way past our sporting playing fields. In 1972, fewer than 10 percent of all medical and law degrees went to women. Today more than 50 percent of all bachelor’s and grad degrees are earned by women. A survey conducted by Ernst & Young and espnW revealed that of businesswomen now in the C-suite (CEOs, CFOs, CMOs, etc.), 94% played sports and 52% played college sports.
“Had (Title IX) not passed, the options and opportunities for women in this country and the world would be vastly different,” states recently retired North Carolina State athletic director, Debbie Yow.
Title IX has been a tremendous opportunity creator for girls and women across all aspects of society.
“The passage of Title IX 45 years ago changed the trajectory of American women, thus transforming our culture,” said Donna de Varona, Olympic gold medalist and Title IX advocate.
“We found our way into space, onto the Supreme Court and into the high echelons of politics. In the sporting arena, we became a visible affirmation of what is possible, offering up strong, confident role models for future generations.”
Title IX was a good public policy intervention — not only for girls and women, but for the country as a whole.
“The benefits will be in what happens after the playing days are over, namely more women in leadership positions in our society,” said Big East commissioner and former WNBA president Val Ackerman. “The pathways for women will keep easing because sports can pave the way.”
The United States is a better and stronger country because of Title IX.
Oh, and yes, we are also World Cup champions because of that landmark legislation.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
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Episode #30 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The State of College Athletics with Dr. David Ridpath: Problems and Potential Solutions – Ridpath is a sports administration professor at Ohio University and a member of The Drake Group, a college sports reform think tank.
Episode #29 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Honorable Tom McMillen Visits League of Fans’ Sports Forum – McMillen is a former All-American basketball player, Olympian, Rhodes Scholar and U.S. Congressman. We discuss the state of college athletics today.
Episode #28 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Chat With Mano Watsa, a Leading Basketball and Life Educator – Watsa is President of PGC Basketball, the largest education basketball camp in the world. We discuss problems in youth sports today.
Episode #27 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Kids’ Sports: How We Can Take Back the Game and Restore Quality Family Time In the Process – Linda Flanagan is author of “Take Back the Game: How Money and Mania Are Ruining Kids’ Sports and Why It Matters.” We discuss how commercialized and professionalized youth sports are hurting kids and their families.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- Reed Appears on Ralph Nader Radio Hour League of Fans’ sports policy director, Ken Reed, Ralph Nader and the New York Times’ Tyler Kepner discussed a variety of sports issues on Nader’s radio show as well as Reed’s updated book, How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan. Reed's book was released in paperback in February, and has a new introduction and several updated sections.
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Vanderbilt Sport & Society - On The Ball with Andrew Maraniss with guest Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director for League of Fans and author of How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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