On June 23, 1972, President Nixon signed into law Title IX, prohibiting sex discrimination in educational institutions that receive federal funding. Title IX was widely seen as the stepping stone for women’s high school and college sports to get to where they are today — but the fight for equality is far from over. Every Thursday night at 10:00 p.m. leading up to the 50th anniversary of the law’s passage, 13 Sports will honor the women who have changed the game for girls and women’s sports in Kansas.
“IX at 50: Pioneers of Women’s Sports in Kansas”
TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) – 50 years ago today, 37 words changed everything.
President Richard Nixon signed into law Title IX, prohibiting discrimination based on sex in educational programs or activities that receive federal funding.
No person in the United States shall, on the basis of gender, be excluded from participation, denied benefits, or discriminated against in any educational program or activity federal financial assistance.
Before the law was passed, opportunities for girls and women in sport were limited to non-existent.
“I had all of these doors open, all of these paths open if I was a young boy, but I didn’t have those same doors and certain paths open if I was a young girl,” said coach Billie Jean Moore. -head of the 1976 U.S. women’s Olympic basketball team, said.
“It was a bit frustrating to think that if I had been born 50 years later, what my opportunities would have been as an athlete,” said 1992 Olympic basketball team assistant Linda Hargrove.
Over the past year, we’ve spoken with a different trailblazer every week who’s changed the game for women’s sports in Kansas: ages 22-89, sports ranging from racquetball to basketball, high school athletes to Olympians .
Women like longtime KU women’s basketball coach Marian Washington, who stepped in as a leader in college sports a year after Title IX passed away.
“You constantly had to qualify that you belonged and had the right to exist,” she said. “It was this showdown. I never knew if it was because I was a woman or because I was African American – or both.
Women like Margaret Murdock, who joined the men’s rifle team at K-State in 1960 and won two Big Eight championships. She would become the first woman to medal in shooting at the Olympics.
“’Oh yeah, if the United States is stupid enough to put a woman on their team, go for it. No problem,” she recalls. “So, ‘Okay, you said it.’ We did it before I fired even a single bullet outside the United States”
Title IX gave women in sports legal support in their fight for equality, but the change didn’t happen overnight.
Then-NCAA executive director Walter Byers called the law “a possible fate for intercollegiate athletics.” For the next decade, women’s sports at the collegiate level were governed by the AIAW: a league by women, for women.
Number of participations and opportunities for girls and women soared since the adoption of the law. In 1972, approximately 294,000 girls participated in high school sports. This number has reached 3.5 million in recent years.
Yet inequalities remain. A recent report from the NCAA, The situation of women in university sporthighlights persistent disparities.
Women hold only a quarter of all head coaching and athletic director positions in the NCAA, and Division I athletic departments spend twice as much on their men’s programs as they do on women’s programs.
“We can’t stop saying, ‘Hey, this has got to be better,'” said longtime Wichita State administrator Becky Endicott.
“Let’s be persistent,” said Theresa Becker, former USA Handball team member. “Let’s not back down. Let’s keep pushing for better. Let’s continue to aim for quality.
“Those of us who grew up with this history know we still have a long way to go,” said Final Four coach and former KU player Cheryl Burnett.
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