Photo by Jeffrey F Lin (Unsplash)

Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 is a United States’ federal law that says:

“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 education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”

With the passing of this law in 1972 it was required that any public institution, including public schools, had to give boys and girls equal opportunities to practice sports. Nowadays this can be seemed as obvious, but back in 1972 only 1 out of every 27 girls played any kind of sport.

In athletics it had a big effect, as although the disciplines offered for men and women didn´t have to be the same, women got access to similar scholarships, equivalent training/competition facilities, coaching/support, travel allowances and publicity, among others. Thanks to this law participation of women in college sports increased 6 times, and almost 10 times in high college sports.

In 1972 from 400 athletes competing for the USA in the Olympics, only 84 were women, where they won 23 medals against the 71 from his male counterparts. In the last Olympics in Rio, in 2016, the USA women were 294, outnumbering the 264 men. And they also won more medals than men (61 vs. 55), including more gold medals (27 vs. 19).

Clearly the passing of Title IX had a big impact in the women USA team success. It shows that it should be taken as an example on how to tackle female discrimination in sports in countries where women are still suffering high levels of discrimination.

Besides this good news, there are still problems remaining, as girls at all ages still participate in sports at lower rates than boys. Supporting sports practice among them includes many benefits.

High school girls who play sports are less likely to be involved in an unintended pregnancy; get better grades and are more likely to graduate than girls who do not play sports. Additionally, it gives them higher levels of confidence and self-esteem, with a more positive body image, and lower levels of depression.

Abuse and harassment are two of the mains reasons that deter girls and women from participating in sports. Implementing policies to safeguard them would reduce the likelihood of such offenses.

Additionally, it would also help to remove stereotypes, as young women may be afraid of been seen unfeminine. It is important to encourage them, as it requires some practice and time to understand the sport discipline and achieve results.

And more importantly, sports practice doesn´t need to be always competitive either. It must be fun and provide a friendly social environment.

Time to follow suit!

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Photo by Morzaszum (Pixabay)

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