– Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972
Athletes, administrators, legislators and women’s sports teams around the United States are celebrating a 40-year-old law this weekend.
Title IX of the educational amendments of 1972 speaks to more than allowing females equal opportunity for participation in sports, female athletic programs flourished under the mandate. Title IX was approved by Congress and signed by President Richard Nixon June 23, 1972.
On the high school level locally, girls’ sports have experienced great success in East Central Alabama. In addition to winning state championships, many female athletes have gone on to college on athletic scholarships.
“It’s given a lot of girls an opportunity that they would not have had if it weren’t for sports,” said Lenette Calvin, a Hall of Fame coach who started a gymnastics program at Sylacauga High School prior to the enactment of Title IX.
With regards to athletics, Title IX mandates equal treatment and opportunity in sports, but schools are allowed to choose what sports are offered based on student interest, budget restraints and gender ratio. There are three main areas used to test whether institutions are in compliance with the law: athletic financial assistance, accommodation of athletic interests and abilities and other program areas.
Romeo Lagmay, women’s basketball coach at Talladega College, said Title IX has helped women’s collegiate athletics make huge strides in the past 40 years.
“Equality issues have progressed,” he said. “Depending on the institution, there’s still some inequality. It’s not totally fair. I’ve been at institutions where it has been fair and there’s somewhere it’s still not fair. There’s still some Title IX issues that are just not quite level.”
Lagmay, who has coached both men’s and women’s teams, can see the issue from both perspectives.
“I was coaching male sports and obviously as a male, I was biased,” he said. “With all we do, I can see us getting resources; we got priority over things. I could see the other side. We got priority over scheduling, facilities, budget, the bigger bus to travel. Crossing over to female (sports), now I find myself fighting against it. Now I can see where, as a male, I was used to getting all that. Now I’m coaching female sports, I’m not getting that, but I’m a male. So I know what happens on that other side and now I’m fighting for it.”
While Lagmay appreciates the opportunities Title IX guarantees for females in athletics, he also pointed out the importance of not going so far as to discriminate against men’s sports when striving for compliance with the law.
“Before, maybe I was insensitive to the issue because I was a male in male sports,” he said. “Now I see it. Now I’m pro-women. It’s really not about being pro-women; it’s about being pro-equality. It’s funny because people think about equality (and) they’re starting to give more to women’s sports. That’s not fair. Me, coaching women, I don’t want to take away from men’s golf or women’s volleyball, but I’m all about not being pro-women now, but I’m all about pro-equality, no matter what side I’m on.”
Terri Sisk has experienced sports at the high school and collegiate level and is now coaching a college team. The Talladega native said she never had any issues of inequality while playing tennis at Talladega High School.
“We were pretty equal to the men’s team,” Sisk said. “I thought Talladega High did a good job with that. It wasn’t an issue that I felt was unfair. I think we were completely equal (to the boys’ tennis team).”
After graduating from THS, Sisk went on to play tennis at Jacksonville State University. Her experience there was much the same.
“By the time I got in school, a lot of universities were very nervous about the legislation,” she said.
With universities well aware of Title IX, Sisk said administrators were careful to make sure women’s sports were treated equally to men.
“You didn’t want the female athletes having an issue,” Sisk said. “In fact, we took the same trips the men’s team took.”
Now as a coach at Tulane University, Sisk’s opinion hasn’t changed.
“Even now, at this level, I travel around the country and talk to different coaches, and I just don’t think you see as much of it,” she said. “The travel allowance, equipment rooms, dining rooms, all that is equal. I definitely think everybody’s going in the right direction.”
With the success of Title IX and the success of women’s sports as a result of the legislation, some in the U.S. are now trying to spread the value of female sports to other countries.
In honor of the 40th anniversary of Title IX, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced Thursday a new initiative to create a Global Sports Mentoring Program.
“Our goal is to identify women worldwide who are emerging leaders in sports: coaches, managers, administrators, sports journalists, marketers, and then match them with American women who are the top leaders in these fields,” Clinton said. “Through mentoring and networking we want to support the rise of women sports leaders abroad, who, in turn, can help nurture the next generation of girl and women athletes.
“This program is part of a larger initiative here at the State Department, which we call Empowering Women and Girls Through Sports.”
Prior to announcing the new initiative, Clinton talked about the importance of Title IX and how sports have positively affected the lives of females across the country.
“We at the State Department believe in the power of sports to bring people together across barriers of all kinds — national barriers, language, cultural, racial barriers, and increasingly across the divide of gender,” she said. “Now, we will see this vividly in just a few weeks when the 2012 Olympics begin in London. Whether as competitors, teammates, or simply as fans, people can find common ground in sports, and that can, therefore, be the beginning of developing better understanding and respect and even friendships that extend outside the arena or the playing field.
“In addition to what sports can make happen between people, they can also bring about transformative change within people. Sports can make you stronger, tougher, more confident, more resilient, and those qualities stay with you long after you finish the race or the final buzzer sounds.
“And for girls and women, sports can have a particularly powerful effect. The United Nations has found that girls worldwide who play sports are more likely to attend and stay in school, more likely to finish their education, more likely to be in better health, and to earn higher wages during the course of their lives.”
Contact Heather Baggett at firstname.lastname@example.org.