Title IX has opened many doors for women athletes in the past 40 years
Athletic Director Tina Slinker entered Portales High School, in New Mexico, as a bold freshman, set on her path to accomplish one goal: to give girls the opportunity to play sports just like the boys.
After much persistence, her school finally added women’s basketball and track and field teams for Slinker’s senior year. She went on to play basketball for Wayland Baptist in Plainview, TX., then a nineteen year coaching career at the University of North Texas, finally landing in her current position at Hockaday. None of these opportunities would have been open to her if not for one small, usually forgotten, law passed in 1972: Title IX.
“I’m so grateful for the opportunity to play because it gave me so many life opportunities I wouldn’t have had without sports,” says Slinker. Title IX paved the path that eventually arrived at 11600 Welch Road and drastically changed her life.
Since it was passed forty years ago, Title IX has increased athletic programming for women from Pre-K soccer to the Olympics, but of sixteen Hockaday girls surveyed, one, junior Jackie, knew of the legislation. And only because it had been suggested to her as a potential JRP topic. Most female athletes take for granted the many chances for them to play and “don’t realize what it’s like to not have the opportunity,” said Slinker.
Title IX, part of the Education Acts of 1972, states that “no person shall on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, be treated differently from another person, or otherwise be discriminated against in any interscholastic, intercollegiate, club or intramural athletics offered by a recipient, and no recipient shall provide such athletics separately on such basis.”
Athletics were created when Hockaday was founded, as one of the four founding cornerstones. However, there were hardly any other schools to compete against, so the green and white teams were created to provide a competitive athletic environment between the Hockaday girls. Green and white has decreased as such an important activity with the increasing opportunity to compete against girls from other schools.
According to the 1972 Cornerstones, there were a junior varsity and varsity field hockey, basketball and soccer teams, swimming, varsity tennis, volleyball, softball, as well as sports that are no longer offered here at Hockaday, like archery and synchronized swimming. As an all-girl’s school, Hockaday girls were presented with many more opportunities to play sports than other schools across the nation. In fact, only one out of every 27 high school girls played an interscholastic sport in 1971. In the 1971-1972 school year, 3,666,917 boys competed in high school sports. Only 294,015 girls were able to do the same.
The road for Title IX was hardly an easy battle. After being inspired during the fight for equal rights during the Civil Rights Movement for African-Americans in the 1960’s, women began to push for equality for women in educational activities. A few key congressmen and congresswomen fought for the passage of what is now known as Title IX of the Education Acts, passed in 1972 and signed into law by President Richard Nixon. It was very short in wording, and Congress passed it with little consideration for the consequences it would have, especially on women’s athletics. However, Title IX was not strictly for athletics, it required gender equity in ten large areas, including access to higher education, math and science, sexual harassment, and standardized testing, among others.
Collegiate athletics reflected this same wide difference between the two genders and athletics. Women received limited opportunities to play sports both in high school and college. While 170,384 men played sports in college in 1971, only 29,977 women competed. The funding for college sports also demonstrated the huge gap between men and women’s sports. Across the board, no college offered funding for women’s sports anywhere close to that for men’s sports. In 1973, the University of Arkansas, which had a total sports budget of $2.05 million, used only seven to eight thousand dollars for women. Most universities mirrored these numbers. Syracuse University gave $90,000 to the men’s athletic program, but only $2,000 to the women’s program in 1969.
Head Lacrosse Coach Elia Kochan’s alma mater, Syracuse, had a coach who was “very into Title IX” and pushed from her team to use the iconic Dome. However, her team always wore school-issued “men’s football cleats and men’s football under-armor.”
Over 50,000 men earned college scholarships based on athletics, compared with only fifty women at the most. The few women athletes practiced at the worst times, received hand-me-down equipment, and raised their own money for trips or new supplies. Most boys taunted any female athletes, and chanted derogatory terms. In fact, Slinker’s male classmates told the girls that “they would not date any girl in athletics.”
Title IX has allowed sports team to be created for women from lower school soccer teams to varsity programs in high school to the Olympics. Over 100 years ago, at the 1908 Stockholm Olympic Games, only 37 women competed, and none were from the United States. In the 2008 Beijing Games, 4,746 women competed alongside 6,450 men. 280 of these women were from the United States, compared to 310 American men.
Junior Ramie appreciates the increase in female athletes in the Olympic games. “I love watching women in the Olympics because seeing what they have accomplished makes me want to push myself harder in order to reach my goals,” she said.