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To the Editor:
Title IX, the federal law that prevents discrimination on the basis of sex by any education program receiving federal funds, turns 50 on June 23. While being a landmark civil rights ruling with far reaching effects on education, the important thing it did (in my opinion) is that it attempted to put girls’ sports on equal footing with boys’ sports.
Having just written this sentence, I would not be surprised to learn that few have heard of, or even know what the significance of Title IX is. As a girls’ coach, and the father of a female high school/college athlete, empowering young women is very important to me. Helping them to work hard and achieve goals is what makes me passionate about coaching. Title IX is supposed to be a tool that gives young ladies the chance to excel in sports, without the worry that girls’ sports will be marginalized or restricted at the expense of boys’ sports.
But don’t we do that, you ask?
To many of us who grew up in the South, boys’ sports are what we talk about around water coolers and write about in the local paper, and as a product of boys’ high school sports in Texas (where football is a Friday religion), girls’ sports were often marginalized or ignored. This societal reality isn’t only in the South, but the South is what I know.
While we have come a long way since the 1980s when I was in school, we still deal with the same issues that plagued girls sports in the 1970s when Title IX was codified into law… lack of equal facilities, lack of equal pay for girl coaches and a general indifference to female sport accomplishments.
While we can talk about fiscal issues regarding who creates revenue and how it should be spent (all legitimate points), and also agree that fixing anything immediately is tough, we can and should do a better job of supporting and recognizing our girls’ teams and their coaches who all work as hard as their “boy sport” counterparts, but often for less praise and pay.
Title IX was written to stop discrimination and level the playing field and 50 years later, I feel that supporting amazing female athletes should be just as important to everyone as it is to bolster our male athletes and learning a little about this important law can help us run out the clock on continued inequity.