50 years of Title IX has progressed women athletics


Photo courtesy of @dawgssports on Instagram

The WCHS girls basketball team poses for the their senior night photo. Despite a successful season, the difference in attendance is shocking.

By Michael Demske, Sports Editor

When Title IX of the Civil Rights Act was signed into law on June 23, 1972 by President Richard M. Nixon, its effect on sports was not the intent. What resulted was the spearhead of women’s leadership in sports to break stereotypes and boundaries.

Title IX prohibits the discrimination, exclusion and denial of educational programs or activities receiving Federal financial assistance on the basis of sex. This includes equality in sporting opportunities for men and women at all levels of competition. Senior basketball player Allison Coleman feels the impact of Title IX every time she steps on the court.

“[Title IX] definitely influences my athletic career,” Coleman said. “The girls varsity basketball team gets all-new uniforms, travel suits and shooting shirts from the school every few years, just like the boys do.”

New jerseys and gear are tangible tokens of Title IX, but the simple fact of being able to play was once not available to high school girls. Before Title IX, girls’ sports teams were not given adequate equipment and space to play, if any at all. Senior lacrosse player Lily Kreindler understands the greater impact of the law in today’s landscape.

“I haven’t seen much of an impact [of Title IX] firsthand on my athletic career,” Kriendler said. “But if not for Title IX, I’m not sure if I would have had the opportunity to play a sport at Churchill as a female athlete.”

Passing the 50th anniversary of Title IX this past year, there is still a lot of room for improvement. While there might be equal opportunity for female athletes, society does not show them the same respect. At the higher levels of competition, there is still male bias and that shows with the amount of comparative funding and viewership.

“I do believe that female athletes and teams are treated differently than male athletes and teams, especially at the professional level,” Kreindler said. “Female sports are constantly overlooked and I feel that male sports often get more funding and media attention.” 

These imbalances are also prevalent at the high school level and specifically in the WCHS community. The boys’ and girls basketball teams had a combined senior night in which the girls played before the boys. There was a significantly larger crowd for the boy’s game than for the girl’s earlier game. 

“I don’t think people purposely ignore the girls,” Coleman said. “Men’s games have unfortunately just always been more of a prominent event than women’s games.”

Coleman credited the men’s team for their recent success but humbly did not mention her team’s outstanding achievements as well. The teams get along quite well and are always showing their support for one another. 

For the next 50 years of Title IX, there is hope that more people will respect women’s sports in the same way they do men’s. This change starts by talking about the effects with each other, and in the WCHS community.

“Title IX is not discussed amongst my team,” said Kreindler. “I think it is because sometimes we take for granted the rights that women fought for in the past to give us the opportunities, like playing sports, that we have today.”

Getting young females into athletics is crucial for building up momentum for the future of Title IX. If there are systems in place that allow girls to try a lot of sports and develop a strong community, steps can then further be taken to close the gap between girls and boys athletics.

“I’ve taken part in a clinic that the Churchill girl’s basketball team put on for younger kids, and I made close connections with the kids that were on my team,” Coleman said. “One young girl still comes out with her mom to see some of our games. I think it makes young girls feel inspired when they’re exposed to a team of older girls playing the sport that they want to pursue.”

There is no sign of women’s sports slowing down with more girls signing up every day. There is no doubt that the current generation of trailblazing female athletes will inspire the next to do the same.

“I would tell the next generation of female athletes to play whatever sport they want, even if it is a male-dominated sport because there is nothing stopping them,” Kriendler said.