Sports is a powerful force in society today. People of all ages and both sexes watch and participate in different sports in increasing numbers. Equal opportunity to participate in sports seems like a right that is natural and would be a common sense issue, but unfortunately this has not always been the case. In 1972 Congress enacted the Education Amendments of 1972, this contains Title IX which was intended to ensure that discrimination based on sex was eliminated. The area that this has had the most contentious impact is sports. Has Title IX increased women's opportunities to participate in sports during college equitably and fairly? Title IX has increased opportunities for women to participate in college sports programs with minimal impact on men's sports programs.
Title IX was meant to eliminate discrimination against women at any institution that receives funds from the federal government. One portion states "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 educational program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance." (Title 20 U.S.C.). This is the basis for the entire debate concerning Title IX. Under this law all activities that colleges and universities offer must be offered without regard to gender. This has not been a problem except for sports. Sports has long been dominated by men. Historically men have had a higher interest in sports and this was perpetuated by the notion that athletic women were not attractive. Add to this the money that men's sports generates and we have a very entrenched tradition. This is the establishment that Title IX was meant to combat.
Laying down an ideal in words is easy to do, but how do you measure and enforce something like Title IX? Three tests were devised to measure if schools are in compliance with Title IX. They are:
1. Ensuring that opportunities for men and women are substantially proportionate to enrollment by gender.
2. Offering sports that fully and effectively satisfies the interests and abilities of female students.
3. Showing a history and continuing practice of expanding the sports programs for women.
Schools need not meet all three, but must meet only one according to the Education Department. These three tests are what all complaints and lawsuits are judged by. They are the backbone of Title IX.
With the law and the means to measure and enforce it in place all we had to do was look for results. The 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta give an indication of the impact Title IX has had on women's sports. Women athletes took home 19 of the 44 gold medals the United States won. The women who have accomplished this are "the first generation of women who, from the time they were little kids, were encouraged to participate in sport." (St. George). This certainty signifies that Title IX has had a positive impact...