50th Anniversary of Title IX

Lily Hanafin, Opinions Editor

Title IX has given women the opportunity to succeed and compete in sports. Every woman from Katie Ledecky—winner of 10 Olympic Medals—to Allyson Felix—breaking the record for the most gold medals of any athlete at the track and field championship just 10 months after giving birth—and countless other female athletes were able to play because of Title IX. 

On June 23, 1972, Title IX was signed into law. This law barred sex discrimination in educational programs and activities that were offered by institutions receiving federal aid. On June 23, 2022, it will be the 50th anniversary of such a landmark case that has led to improved women’s rights throughout the United States.

As a woman that dedicates all of my free time to playing and practicing softball, this law has had a big impact on my life. Not only has this law allowed me to play the sport that I love every single day, but it has also taught me numerous life lessons. Every girl should have the same opportunity I had to play a sport for their own personal and psychological benefit.

I have the utmost respect and appreciation for the female athletes that came before me, like Billie Jean King and Christine Grant, who campaigned for Title IX, so that women like myself can compete in sports. It’s unbelievable that before 1972 only 32,000 women competed at the collegiate level, while today that number is 150,000. 

However, even though it’s been 50 years since the passing of Title IX, women in sports still face discrimination. There is a constant narrative surrounding women’s college sports, saying that they are a waste of time and money, or that women are not as great athletes as men. It’s incredibly disheartening to see that many people are unable to accept that women can be great, strong, competitive athletes, as well.

Despite the hateful, ignorant comments and beliefs of some people, the majority of people do not share their sentiments. For instance, women’s sports have seen an increase in viewership over the past few years. For example, the 2021 Women’s Softball College World Series had an average of 1.2 million viewers, while the 2021 Men’s Baseball College World Series only averaged 775,000 viewers. In addition to college softball, the Women’s National Basketball Association and the National Women’s Soccer League experienced increased viewership and television ratings over the pandemic. 

If you only watch men’s sports, try to watch women’s sports. Not only is it enjoyable to watch, but there are differences between the sports. Softball, while similar to baseball, has many differences and is just another sport people who like baseball can watch to support female athletes. I’m not saying that people shouldn’t watch men’s sports, because I love watching men’s sports as well; I just think that people should start watching and not discriminate against women’s sports. 

As we approach 50 years, to honor this law and what it stands for, we as a nation need to encourage girls, not just boys, to play sports, and continue to show support and respect for the many female athletes that work ceaselessly day in and day out to perfect their sport.