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
Episode #22 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Rethinking Sports Fandom with Author Craig Calcaterra – We discuss Calcaterra’s new book “Rethinking Fandom: How to Beat the Sports-Industrial Complex at Its Own Game” and explore new ways to be a fan in the year 2022.
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Episode #21 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Chatting About a Broken Game With Baseball Writer Pedro Moura – Moura is a national baseball writer for Fox Sports. We discuss how and why the game of baseball is broken, what factors caused it, and offer a few thoughts on how to “fix” a great game.
Episode #20 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Coaching Youth and High School Sports Based On What’s Best for the Athlete’s Holistic Development – We chat with long-time youth, high school and college basketball coach Jim Huber.
Episode #19 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Capturing the Spirit of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League with Anika Orrock – We discuss the hoops AAGPFL women had to jump through to play the game they loved as well as the long-term impact and legacy they have in advancing sports opportunities for girls and women.
Episode #18 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking about the 50th Anniversary of Title IX and the Lia Thomas Controversy with Nancy Hogshead-Makar – Hogshead-Makar is a triple gold medalist in swimming, a civil rights attorney and CEO of Champion Women.
Episode #17 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports With Legendary New York Times Sports Columnist Robert Lipsyte – We chat about Lipsyte’s amazing career and some of the athletes he covered.
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.
- League of Fans Sports Policy Director Ken Reed quoted in Washington Post column titled "What happened to P.E.? It’s losing ground in our push for academic improvement," by Jay Mathews
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.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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