Title IX and the Power of Sport


The passing of title IX of the Education amendments of 1972 gave way to extreme growth in women’s athletics on the high school and college levels.  Title IX was a law banning discrimination based on sex for any federally funded education programs. The effects are far reaching not just in the institutional sense, but also in the way they completely changed society’s outlook on women that played sports. Seeing women and girls playing sports became commonplace rather than out of the ordinary. For the longest time in our society, the sporting world was seen as a man’s world. Title IX greatly changed that and gave many women opportunities in sports that were not there before.

Detractors of the Law argue against it in many unfair ways. They claim that it sets quotas that take scholarships and opportunities away from male athletes in order to have an equal number of scholarships for females. This is untrue, but it is still a lie that is perpetuated again and again. Many men’s wrestling programs were cut from Division 1 colleges after the passing of Title IX. This wasn’t due to Title IX, but rather due to the declining popularity of the sport. Funding wasn’t taken away from wrestling and given to women’s athletics. Wrestling was actually squeezed out at many schools due to the popularity of football rising and the desire for those schools to give more funding to that sport.

One of the most important effects that this law has had has been the number of girls that have been able to make sports a part of their lives. 3 million girls played high school varsity sports in 2010, which was up ten times from the 1972. This has taken women’s athletics from a subversive culture into a mainstream part of our society.  This gives girls opportunities to learn leadership in team settings, set and achieve goals, and accomplish tasks that help build confidence in ways that were not available in times before the law was passed.

The positive social consequences of playing sports were found in research done by the Women’s Sports Foundation. They were published in a report and Nike quickly turned them into an empowering add. The ad was titled “If You Let Me Play” and brought a powerful message both to print and to television. It featured young girls saying

“If you let me play; If you let me play sports; I will like myself more; I will have more self-confidence; I will be 60% less likely to get breast cancer; I will suffer less depression; I will be more likely to leave a man who beats me; I will be less likely to get pregnant before I want to; I will learn what it means to be strong, if you let me play sports.”

Title IX opened up our society for a huge shift towards women’s athletics.  That shift has been infinitely positive.  The power of sport help shapes lives, instill values, teach lessons, and most importantly give confidence to a group that didn’t have those opportunities before. Title IX has shaped this country for the better and will continue to do so for generations to come.


Brake, Deborah L. Getting in the Game: Title IX and the Women’s Sports Revolution. New York, NY: NYU Press, 2010.


3 thoughts on “Title IX and the Power of Sport

  1. For me, sports have always had a therapeutic effect. I loved this ad because it shows the powerful effect that sports can have in the lives of everyone who participates, especially young girls.


  2. I love the empowering message of these ads. I think sports was and is one the most empowering things in my life. Before Title IX, when women did not have sports teams to play on, how often did they play sports casually on their own? What made the transition from girls not being involved in sports to so many girls being involved so quickly after Title IX?


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