Title IX Still Provides
Sports Opportunities for Girls
June 22, 2012
The United States is marking the 40th anniversary of a law that requires
schools using federal funds to provide male and female students with
equal opportunities in sports and other programs.
Supporters say Title IX has dramatically increased the number of female
athletes in the country, but critics say that has come at a cost,
reducing opportunities for young men to compete at the highest level of
At a recent Washington tournament, America's top high school girls'
basketball teams did more than just play the game. They learned about a
40-year-old law that has helped many girls pursue their athletic
"Here, we get to play basketball and learn new things," stated Nira
Fields, who came from California for the event. "The main thing I
learned was equality among sports for the women's and the men's side."
The Title IX act of 1972 says schools receiving federal funds must not
discriminate against males or females in programs such as sports. That
has led universities to offer more scholarships to female athletes,
giving many an education and a chance to compete.
Tina Thompson, the top scorer in the professional Women’s National
Basketball Association, says scholarships made university affordable for
“I'm one of five children, and so, going to a university like Southern
California was something that I probably would not have had the
opportunity to go to," Thompson explained. "I mean, I could have picked
any school that I wanted to go to in the country, because of Title IX.”
Since Title IX took effect, female U.S. athletes also have had
increasing international success. The United States reached the Women’s
World Cup final against Japan last year. But there is also some
Critics say the law actually discriminates against male athletes by
pressuring universities to offer them fewer programs in low-profile
sports, like wrestling. Many universities have eliminated some men’s
teams to cut costs and to make sure they meet Title IX’s requirement for
gender balance among programs.
Hazard, a head wrestling coach at Robinson Secondary School, hosted a
tournament in northern Virginia. He says the university wrestling
program that attracted him in high school was dropped because of Title
“So, you know, is that fair? To me, it wasn't. I was one of the
numbers,” Hazard said.
Sabrina Schaeffer, the executive director of the Independent Women’s
Forum, argues that Title IX effectively imposes gender quotas on
“There are legitimate and real differences between the sexes, and we
shouldn't try to paper that over with legislation,” Schaeffer stressed.
Title IX supporters say schools often cut smaller men's sports to
maintain expensive American football and basketball programs.
As the law marks its 40th anniversary, those supporters vow to keep
fighting for more resources for girls’ sports.