Sports is the closest thing to a meritocracy in real life. Teams play the best players regardless race, creed, nationality; religion, and thanks to Title IX, gender.
Before Title IX was included in the 1964 Civil Rights Act the state of women’s athletics was abysmal.
According to Thestandard.net, “in 1972, fewer than 300,000 girls in America played high school sports. Now, three million do.
“In 1972, only 2 percent of school athletic budgets were devoted to women, and athletic scholarships for women were almost nonexistent.
“The number of women participating in college sports has soared in 40 years, from 29,977 to 193,232.”
It has been 40 years since Title IX was enacted and today we have more perspective on its benefits and costs.
It is a shame that it took legislation to bring us to this point. In a perfect world we would abide by our better angels. Life is not perfect but we can strive to be better. We should strive to be better in all facets of our life.
I hope we are to a point where we are self motivated when it comes to equality, especially in sports.
Title IX brought America closer to its ideals and principles. Women were no longer second class citizens in sports after the momentous legislation was passed. The positive results are staggering.
Would there be a women’s professional basketball league in the US if not for Title IX?
Would stars like Sheryl Swoops and Cynthia Cooper have been encouraged to play sports? Could Swoops and Cooper have paved the way for today’s WNBA stars? Where would Candice Parker and Brittney Griner be today?
Would Venus and Serena Williams be the transcendent stars that they are today?
Life doesn’t exist in a vacuum though. We know what happened and we know the results.
I would like to think that, as a nation, we were moving in that direction. However, do we know that? In every instance of civil rights or equality the nation has needed a push in the right direction. Title IX was the proverbial nudge that the nation needed.
Today women athletes are just that, athletes with equal protection under the law. There are still sexist jokes muttered from uneducated individuals but the landscape is better.
Intrinsically, we are a better sports culture because we are more inclusive. Sports should be for everyone who has the talent to compete.
What sports does for a person can’t be measured. You learn teamwork and competitiveness. Both are important qualities needed to succeed in any chosen field.
Women expect to compete. It has spread to other aspects of life. There are more women CEO’s than ever. There are more women in leadership positions, including sports. For instance, women have an increased presence in coaching.
Maybe a meritocracy is unattainable but progress has been made. And that’s a good thing.