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The first half century of Title IX — the 1972 gender equality law that outlawed sex-based discrimination in federally funded educational institutions — saw women’s sport in America go through a period of profound growth and evolution.

The concise law1 essentially required school sports programs to offer girls equal opportunities, relative to their male counterparts, and the effect was immediate. The ratio of girls to boys participating in national high school sports increased from 8 percent in 1971-72 (before the law was passed) to 53 percent a decade later, and the NCAA saw a similar increase (from 18 percent to 44 percent). percent) at the college level. Since then, it’s been a long, gradual ascent to equal participation — although there have been many obstacles along the way, and equal investment is much harder to come by.

It’s very informative to see where the growth of women’s sports has come from sport after sport, and how it has changed over time. Here are the number of girls’ high school sports participation in four-year intervals for the dozen most popular sports in the past 20 years, according to data from the National Federation of Public High School Associations:

Many of the most popular girls’ sports in 2018-19—the most recent data in the NFHS survey—were the ones that made big profits right after Title IX and were already among the most popular in the mid-1970s. For example, athletics, volleyball, and basketball were the top three in 1975-76, and they remain the three most popular sports for girls to play today. (The order only changes: volleyball has become a little more popular than basketball over time.) So in a sense, the idea of ​​which sport girls “should” play—or at least had access to—was pretty entrenched at the time. commencement of Title IX and has remained ever since.

But there are exceptions. Tennis was the third most popular women’s high school sport before Title IX, but in 2018-19 it ranked only seventh; although her participation has grown by 628 percent since 1971-72, her share of all female high school athletes2 has fallen from 9 percent to 6 percent. Meanwhile, soccer has gone from a sport with just 700 female participants in 1971-72—representing only 0.24 percent of all American girls who play high school sports—to 394,105 in 2018-19, ranking fourth among all sports. and accounts for 12 percent of all female high school athletes. As my former colleague Ben Morris wrote during the 2015 Women’s World Cup, football has become one of Title IX’s greatest success stories, with the dramatic increase in girls’ participation directly helping to propel American women’s dominance on the international stage in the next generation.

Perhaps the most compelling determinant of Title IX’s progress in growing women’s sports—and particularly in diversifying which sports girls have access to or see themselves playing—is basketball. As noted, it remains the third most popular sport to play at the high school level, with approximately 400,000 participants and 12 percent of all female high school athletes. But that share has steadily declined over time, from a staggering 45 percent in 1971-72 to just 23 percent a decade later, 15 percent in 2006-07 and now even less. Track and field are similar (down from a 26 percent share of all female high school athletes in 1975-76 to 16 percent in 2018-19), and even volleyball has fallen slightly from its peak of 16 percent in 1990-91 to 13 percent three years ago. As other sports have seen their numbers increase, the top sports must share more of the athletic talent they possess — and there are more opportunities to showcase that talent than ever before.

We can see this in how easy or difficult it is for a high school athlete to go on and play in college. The NCAA did not have full participation statistics available prior to the early 1980s, but we were able to trace the data there. In 1982-83, the ratio of US female high school sports participants to Division I athletes on the women’s side was 53.4 — in other words, only one in every 53.4 girls who played in high school could also expect to play in college. at Division I level. That figure is 41.3 for the boys, meaning it’s much harder to play in college as a female athlete than it is as a male athlete. (The difference is slightly smaller when looking beyond DI to the NCAA as a whole, but still tends to be harder to make on the women’s side.)

However, that trend changed over time, as it became easier to play on the women’s side in college from the mid to late 1990s. In 2019, the ratio of female high school athletes to DI players was 39.2, which means there are more opportunities for aspiring athletes than around 40 years ago. (The same can’t be said of the male athletes, of whom 45.8 played in high school in 2018-19 for everyone else who played in DI, a tougher ratio than it was in the early 80s.)

High school girls’ athletes are getting more college chances

Number of US high school athletes per collegiate athlete (in Division I or the NCAA as a whole), at four-year intervals since 1983 See the article : Charter Schools join new organization to save sports championship.

This reflects the convergence of the number of female and male athletes at the college level, where the former was 88 percent of the latter at DI level in 2018-19 — and participation parity has been achieved in some popular sports, while approaching it in others.

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Women have achieved participation parity in several top sports

Ratio of female and male NCAA Division I athletes by year among sports in the top 10 most popular for men and women in 2018-19 On the same subject : Heilferty drafted to the US U-23 women’s squad.

But the overall picture isn’t as rosy as it seems from these turnout figures at the top tier of the collegiate sports pyramid. As a naive estimate, we would expect women to outnumber men in most sports if the odds were really equal, as 1.3 women are enrolled in college for every man. On the other hand, we still see differences in opposite directions, particularly in the so-called revenue sports basketball and football — the latter bringing in more athletes than any of the women’s sports by a factor of more than 20 percent. This, in turn, has helped lead to some of the major financial inequalities between men’s and women’s sports that have been exposed in recent years.

Net participation is also less evenly distributed in Divisions II and III than in Division I. The overall NCAA ratio of female to male athletes is only 78 percent, and that includes higher DI numbers. It was even less balanced in high school; of the seven sports above, participation parity has been achieved or exceeded in just two at the US high school level in 2019.3

And the COVID-19 pandemic has begun to undermine some of the achievements achieved in women’s sport over the decades. A recent NCAA report showed that women’s athletic participation declined at Division I level in 2020-21 by 0.72 percent, the first year-over-year decline since 1989-90. (Male participation, by contrast, increased by 0.79 percent despite the pandemic.) The decline was even sharper (-2.66 percent) across all NCAA divisions, giving last year the largest seasonal decline in women’s college athletic participation since 1986-87. .

As always, these statistics provide reason for frustration and optimism. It’s true that women’s sport has boomed over the last 50 years, and Title IX is almost certainly the biggest factor driving that surge. The figures also show how much progress has been made in expanding the range of sports that attract great athletes, with sports such as lacrosse and competitive spirit (which themselves do not necessarily qualify for Title IX status) ranking among the fastest growing for secondary school. girls over the last decade, in addition to the remarkable resurgence of football since the early days of Title IX. Far more opportunities are now available for aspiring athletes to play at the college level, a sign that the rapidly growing talent pool on the part of women is increasingly being put to full use.4

However, Title IX only goes so far as to create participation parity—let alone funding parity—or ensuring that women’s sport can overcome a crisis like a pandemic without some athletes falling through the cracks. Apparently, some of the challenges took more than half a century to complete.

Neil Paine is senior writer for FiveThirtyEight. @Neil_Paine

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What is Title IX and how has it affected women’s sports in the US?

Passed in 1972, Title IX prohibits discrimination in higher education. The law states that universities cannot exclude women from any activity – including sports. See the article : Why is the United States still buying oil?. Suddenly, colleges that only offer men’s teams find themselves disobedient. Title IX improves access to women’s sports at the college level.

What is Title IX and what does it have to do with sports? Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendment (20 U.S.C. . 1681 et seq.) prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in educational programs that receive Federal financial assistance. Athletics is considered an integral part of the institution’s educational program and is therefore covered by this law.

What has Title IX done for women’s sports?

Title IX of the law, which recognized gender equality in education as a civil right, changed women’s sport forever. The massive shift was, in part, an accident. After all, in the law no words for sports or athletics or even physical education appear.

What has been the impact of Title IX on sports in America?

The law opened doors and removed barriers for girls and women, and while female athletes and their sports programs still have fewer teams, fewer scholarships, and lower budgets than their male counterparts, since part of Title IX , female participation at the secondary school level has grown by 1057 percent and by 614 …

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What impact has Title IX had on female opportunities in sports?

The law opened doors and removed barriers for girls and women, and while female athletes and their sports programs still have fewer teams, fewer scholarships, and lower budgets than their male counterparts, since part of Title IX , female participation at the secondary school level has grown by 1057 percent and by 614 …

Who will benefit the most from Title IX in sports? High school sports also benefit from Title IX. Title IX is often seen in collegiate sports, but high school athletics also benefits. Prior to 1972, only 1 in 27 girls played high school sports at the university level. After 30 years of Degree IX being present, 1 in 2.5 girls play varsity high school sports.

How did Title IX influence the relationships among sport Gender and American society?

Innovative gender equality laws are making a lasting impact by increasing the participation of girls and women in athletics. Title IX, a landmark gender equality law passed as part of the 1972 Education Amendment, prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded education programs.

How Does Title IX apply to athletics?

Rule Title IX stipulates that if the recipient provides athletic financial assistance, it must provide a reasonable opportunity for the award to members of each sex in substantial proportion to the number of students of each gender participating in interschool or intercollegiate athletics.

How did Title IX influence the relationships among sport Gender and American society?

Innovative gender equality laws are making a lasting impact by increasing the participation of girls and women in athletics. Title IX, a landmark gender equality law passed as part of the 1972 Education Amendment, prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded education programs.

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