On June 23rd, we, as a country, celebrate the 25th anniversary of Title IX -- a federal statute barring sex discrimination in schools and mandating that women's sports must be given the same amount of monetary and other support as men's.
The reports about this anniversary may be found on inside pages of most newspapers -- typical. Twenty-five years later, 80% of our colleges and universities are OUT OF COMPLIANCE -- typical. Well, who really thinks it's important, after all; it's about women and how they have taken money away from important things such as college football, basketball, tennis, golf, baseball and all the other sports, er, MEN'S sports.
But for those women who were suddenly allowed to do sports under this Title, it meant a great deal. TV news shows did much better than most newspapers. Most showed excerpts of the President, Olympian Jackie Joyner-Kersee, former astronaut, Sally Ride and some of the other successful women in occupations from doctor to firefighter.
"We're here to celebrate the God-given talent of every woman and girl who has been benefited by it," Clinton said. He said that Title IX did not cause women to succeed, "but it did give them the chance to make the most of their abilities."
And what abilities we have seen when women are free to live in their bodies according to their own definition of womanness.
In 1940, Babe Didrikson Zaharias was asked "Is there anything at all you don't play?"
"Yeah," she answered. "Dolls."
Not mentioned in the media, but of the greatest importance, is the fact that exercise throughout a person's life is one of the greatest means of preventing that horrible, crippling disease of our foremothers, osteoporosis. We hear now of the great benefits of exercise in preventing all sorts of conditions, such as cancer, weight control, heart problems, arthritis and the list goes on and on.
We cannot underestimate the effect of team sports on bonding. Men have had this privilege for eons, but it has only been since Title IX that women have been allowed to participate and show their fantastic abilities. Previously, all women were encouraged to treat other women as rivals and any bonding activity was frowned upon since women were supposed to find their identity and approval only from men.
So all these benefits, and we haven't even mentioned what team sports and exercise have to do with gaining one's self esteem.
We are sure to note additional benefits as more and more women gain prominence, and along with it, a voice we can all hear. For now we celebrate two women's basketball leagues that resulted from college/university programs that this Title mandated.
Perhaps these programs contributed to the noticeable number of women who are going on so-called adventure vacations. Many of these, by popular demand, are led by women, for women. Why not include men? The answer is usually along these lines. "I can learn to fish, or hike or canoe without one of them telling me all the time how to do it -- like I'm a kid that can't figure the most basic things out."
One of the leaders of these adventure trips said, "Women have always been adventuresome but it is only now that they have had the money or opportunity to take these kind of trips before."
In the middle of June, early in this century, Susan B. Anthony was fined $100 for trying to vote.
This year, near the end of the same century, in the middle of June, Dr. Jenetta Cole, in her farewell address on leaving as President of Spelman College, reminds us that "women do hold up half the sky" and the army pinned a third star on General Claudia Kennedy, the first WOMAN 3-Star General!
Copyright 1997 Renee T. Louise and Ruth M. Sprague, Ph.D. These articles may be republished for noncommercial use only, provided that they are copied intact, and that this copyright notice is attached. Address all queries to: TWANDA@ConnRiver.net.
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