Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Title IX

Sorry that I am a bit late this morning, but I've been preparing to speak with my friend Laurie's scout troop this afternoon. 

We are coming up on the 40th anniversary of Title IX in June. I was 12 years old when Title IX was enacted (put the two facts together and you have my age!)  I had just finished 6th grade.  I have one very clear memory of that year that I am going to share with the girls as part of our chat today.

It was recess time and girls in my elementary school in 1972 jumped rope, walked around the playground, sat and talked with friends and did Cat's Cradle.  I wanted more.  I wanted to play kickball with the boys because they had a marvelous (it seemed at the time) field to play on and I loved to run and play.  We were not allowed to play with them or play kickball.

In my mind, that seemed wrong.  "Why couldn't we play too?"  So... I walked my 5'5" self (how silly of them not to have the tallest girl in 6th grade on their team??) out onto the field and demanded to join in.  They were shocked!  The told me to "leave and go jump rope" and one went and got a teacher.  She made me leave the field and told me to find something else to do.  I never forgot that moment in time. Luckily, middle school was around the corner and we moved to New Hampshire. 

Once we got here, I wanted to get involved in things.  I tried out for cheerleading.  I was NOT a cheerleader, not as far as grace was concerned (and still am not... sorry to say...) but I did discover the one sport they did offer that winter: basketball.  I fell in love.  I fell head-ver-heels with the sport (and the Boston Celtics!) and with being an athlete right then and there.

One might say "the rest is history."  I went on to play field hockey, basketball and softball in high school, field hockey in college and then coaching all three as an adult.  Title IX and sports changed my life.

My daughter's don't know a world where the freedom to play wasn't there.  Both have been actively engaged in field hockey and softball since they were old enough to hold a bat and a ball.   They take these statistics for granted:

High School Athletes
Source: Women's Sports Foundation. Play Fair: A Title IX Playbook for Victory

NCAA Varsity Athletes
Source: ncwge.org

These facts from the AAUW are a part of their lives:
Health Benefits of increased physical activity and participation opportunities:
  • Physical activity can reduce a woman’s weight and risk of developing cancer and other diseases. (National Women’s Law Center. Keeping Score: Girls’ Participation in High School Athletics in Massachusetts. 2004.)
  • Girls who participate in some kind of sport experience higher than average levels of self-esteem and lower levels of depression. (Colton, M. & Gore, S. (1991). “Risk, Resiliency, and Resistance: Current Research on Adolescent Girls.” Ms. Foundation for Women.)
  • Sports participation is associated with reduced rates of body dissatisfaction and eating disorders. (Tiggemann, M. (2001). “The impact of adolescent girls’ life concerns and leisure activities on body dissatisfaction, disordered eating, and self-esteem.” The Journal of Genetic Psychology.)
Behavioral benefits of increased physical activity and participation opportunities:
  • Athletic participation can teach valuable life skills that will be useful later in life. Women will learn to collaborate with others, dedication, and perseverance. (National Women’s Law Center. Keeping Score: Girls’ Participation in High School Athletics in Massachusetts. 2004.)
  • Female athletes have better grades and higher graduation rates than non-athlete females. In high school, athletic participation can lead to college scholarships. (National Women’s Law Center. Keeping Score: Girls’ Participation in High School Athletics in Massachusetts. 2004.)
  • 71% of the female students who entered NCAA Division I programs on athletic scholarship in 1998 graduated within six years of enrollment, as compared to 63% for female students overall. (2005 Graduation-Rates Report for NCAA Division I Schools. NCAA, 2005.)
  • Young women who participated in sports were more likely to be engaged in volunteering, be registered to vote, feel comfortable making a public statement, follow the news, and boycott than young women who had not participated in sports. (Lopez, M.H. & Moore, K. (2006). Participation in Sports and Civic Engagement. The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement.)
  • Teenage female athletes are less likely to illicit drugs, less likely to be suicidal, less likely to smoke and more likely to have positive body images than female non-athletes. (Miller, K, Sabo, D.F., Melnick, M.J., Farrell, M.P. Barnes, G.M. (2000). The Women’s Sports Foundation Report: Health Risks and the Teen Athlete. Women’s Sports Foundation.)
  • Team sports participation is associated with a lower prevalence of sexual risk-taking behaviors for young women. (Kulig, K., Brener, N. & McManus, T. (2003). “Sexual activity and substance use among adolescents by category of physical activity plus team sport participation.” Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.)
  • Female athletes are less than half as likely to get pregnant as female non-athletes (5% and 11%, respectively), more likely to report that they had never had sexual intercourse than female non-athletes (54% and 41%, respectively), and more likely to experience their first sexual intercourse later in adolescence than female non-athletes. (1998). The Women’s Sports Foundation Report: Sport and Teen Pregnancy. Women’s Sports Foundation.) 
I would like to end this post with, what is to me, one of the most powerful commercials FOR giving girls the opportunity to play sports.  Whatever your feelings about Nike, you have to admit this is an incredible argument FOR girls to play!

Thanks for stopping by today!
See you tomorrow,
In honor of my girls!

No comments:

Post a Comment