Since the statute’s enactment in June 1972, the number of female high school athletes has increased from about 290,000 to 2.9 million. Women’s participation in intercollegiate sports has soared from fewer than 32,000 to 180,000.
In a new report on Title IX by Stanford University’s Center on Ethics, sports icons recalled the not-so-good old days. Olympic gold medal basketball coach Tara VanDerveer remembers having no high school team on which to play when she was growing up. She was able to practice in pickup games only because she had the neighborhood’s best ball. When tennis star Billie Jean King was ranked fourth in the nation, she had no opportunities for a college athletic scholarship. At Stanford, the women’s tennis team practiced with cast-off balls from the men that Coach Dick Gould described as “not only used, but very used.”
All this has changed. Yet despite more than three decades of legislation requiring equal opportunity, American athletic programs are still a far distance from achieving it. And recent federal policies are becoming part of the problem.