“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.” [i]
Title IX was signed into law in 1972 and generated major changes to our educational system affording women new and long overdue educational and athletic opportunities. Why then do women athletes continue to get outrageously fewer teams, despicably scarcer scholarships and disgustingly inferior budgets than their male counterparts? It is well past time to change this unacceptable, reprehensible standard.
Our daughters and sisters are as important as our brothers and sons and deserve every opportunity to succeed and excel in sports, education and, indeed, life! Maybe your sister has experienced some sort of sexual discrimination already. Maybe this terrible prejudice has been thrust upon your daughter. What did you say when you had to look into her tear-filled eyes as she wondered why anyone would exude such twisted hate and horrid ignorance toward her based solely on her gender? How could you explain that in this day and age such appalling, bigoted opinions are not only tolerated but actually run rampant in our society? Did it make you angry? Could you feel her pain? Would you, like me, do anything in your power to confront and rebuke the culprits promoting such stupidity and animosity?
As an enlightened nation, we are lucky to live in a time where these chauvinistic, Neanderthal views of our past no longer pertain to women to the degree that they did a few decades ago. However, male athletes still receive 176 million more scholarship dollars than female athletes every year. As recently as 1992, 2.4% of men received athletic scholarships compared to the disproportionate 1.0% of women receiving similar athletic financial support. A slight improvement was seen by the time 2008 rolled around, when 1.6% of male athletes were awarded these grants compared to 1.1% of female athletes. [ii] Regrettably, at this rate of improvement, parity of scholarship distribution will take another 16 years or more before men and women receive equivalent opportunities for scholarships. The sad truth is clear: we have a long way to go before we reach true equality.
While it is true that the majority of money currently generated from spectator sports comes from men’s sporting events; the truth of the matter is, by supporting women’s athletic scholarships the profitability of sports in general could potentially double. Let’s encourage our young women to compete for an affordable education, learn from failure and success and strive for perfection, both in the classroom and on the field! Not only is it appallingly bias to assume men’s sports are the only events that could produce revenue, it’s also prohibited according to Title IX. Regardless of legal implications, consider the benefits of increasing opportunities for young women in sports. The more scholarships that become available for these young ladies, the more competition to qualify for these grants will escalate which, in turn, will improve the skills of all the competitors. By pushing these athletes to new levels of performance, the public’s interest in viewing women based sports will propagate; thus, amplifying the possible spectator sports we currently enjoy and, of course, all the revenue related to such events.
Increased scholarships for young women will result in an overall stronger future workforce, promote more diverse sporting entertainment possibilities and solidify our countries unity by promoting equality. It has been proven that women who are active in sports develop greater confidence, self-esteem and pride in their physical, social and academic endeavors; furthermore, research has suggested that girls that participate in team-based events are less likely to get involved with drugs, less likely to experience teen pregnancy and more likely to graduate from high-school. [iii] By supporting these impressive young ladies today and encouraging their academic growth by awarding them critical scholarships and grants, we will be strengthening and bolstering our homeland’s resilient leaders of tomorrow who will be unequivocally instrumental in shaping and molding our country’s future: promoting even more equality in sports, education and the professional arena, just as their predecessors have done before them.
Studies have established that women’s involvement in sports improves health, grades and leadership skills. Dr. Anne McTiernan, director of the Prevention Center at Fred Hutchinson in Seattle, has attested that participation in rigorous physical activities can reduce a woman’s risk of developing cancer and other diseases. In addition, sports involvement has been confirmed to control anger and anxiety, promote healthy eating and sleeping and benefit the development of grace, balance and poise according to the Women’s Sports Foundation. Athletic female students have historically earned better grades than their inactive counterparts and the graduation rates of young women involved in sports, from both high school and college, outnumber men in sports and, in fact, men in general. Women who have had the benefit of being involved in team activities learn how to take criticism, develop self-improvement skills and become assertive, both on and off the field. Effectively learning how to cope with failure is as important as relishing success; therefore, team sports are imperative to a well-rounded disposition.
While these remarkable, extraordinary young women competing for the limited available scholarships currently offered in today’s imbalanced world are undeniably strong enough to fight for their rights on their own, it is imperative that our entire nation join them in their struggle for equality. This awesome responsibility lies squarely on each and every one of our shoulders and it is our obligation as cultured, progressive, educated Americans to promote vital impartiality, defend basic educational rights and support the fundamental belief that no matter what race, color, creed‐and yes, even sex‐it is up to all of us to ensure that equality is a team sport!
© Daniel E. Barndt ~2012
[i] Title IX, Education Amendments of 1972
[ii] Athletic Scholarships – Who Gets Them and How Many Are There? ~by Leah Westfall, 2011
[iii] Mythbusting: What Every Female Athlete Should Know! ~Women’s Sports Foundation