Sporting Women’s Rights



Growing up, I was always surrounded by sports. Every day I would come home from school to play basketball, baseball, football, or whatever with my brother and his friends. During the summer, we would be outside constantly and my mom always had to drag us into the house at night because we never wanted to stop playing. I would be so jealous of my brother and his friends when they had games with their teams because while I had to sit on the sidelines and annoy my dad to play with me during timeouts or have a catch on the side, they got to play for real. So when I was old enough to play on my own teams whether it was for CYO leagues, club teams, and even school, I was ecstatic. I was finally going to be able to play for a reason other than for having fun; I would be able to get excited for practices and then get nervous for game days. Having this feeling and being a part of a team is really unique and that is why I am so thankful for the ability to play the sports I love because 50 years ago, that wasn’t even a question for women.

Title IX became effective in June of 1972 and was a new law that stated, “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…” This new law made such an impact on women’s rights, especially in sports. Before Title IX, one in 27 girls played varsity high school sports. By 2001, one in every 2.5 girls played, meaning a total of 2.8 million girls played varsity sports. Before Title IX, athletic scholarships for women were virtually nonexistent because so few women were involved with sports. According to NOW, in 2003, there was more than $1 million in scholarships for women at Division I schools.


The participation of women in sports has dramatically increased in the United States as you can see from the statistics but Title IX had a global effect. From this pdf file you can see that participation of women in the Olympics has drastically changed as well. For example, in 1960, there were only 611 women who participated which made up about 11.4% of the overall participation. However, in 2012, (which marked the 40th anniversary of Title IX) there was 4,676 women participants which made up almost half of the overall participation. Women’s participation in sports has come a long way since 1972 but there are still strides that we need to make. It was only until this past Olympics in London for women in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Brunei to be able to participate. When it came to sports, female athletes were barred from the Olympic Games because they would be participating in front of a mixed-gender crowd. Even though this article  is talking about how these three countries allowed women to participate, there are still many restrictions for women.

Although there have been great strides in the women’s participation in sports, there is still a gap among men and women when it comes to athletics. This is not on the basis of participation but the attitude towards them and how women’s sports are treated compared to men’s sports. Just this article on funding shows how there are still many problems that need to be solved. When will we get gender equality in sports? Will there always be a gap between men’s and women’s sports or will we continue to push towards gender equality? Why do you think it took so long for countries like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Brunei to allow women to participate in sports?

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18 Responses to Sporting Women’s Rights

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  4. As much as I would hope to see men and women on an equal playing field when it comes to athletics, no matter how much progress is made, I do not see this day coming. In my mass communication class we had a very long heated debate about the portrayal and presence of female athletes in the media. Clearly networks like ESPN highlight male athletes and sporting events much more than female. The question was raised whether this will ever change. Our class, composed of many female athletes here at the school, generally agreed male athletes will continue to dominate the sports world. As great as it sounds, if there was a WNBA game on or the Celtics the majority of us, including the girls, prefer to watch the male sports. However, I do think female athletes are making great progress. They are being less sexualized in today’s media and looked more upon for their true talent and hard work.

  5. pearyk2013 says:

    I did varsity track for eight seasons throughout high school. If women weren’t allowed to participate in track I wouldn’t have most of the friends that I have or be as proud of myself as I am. I would beg my brother and dad to teach me to play any sport at all in my free time and with an actual team I had someone there that wanted to teach us. Our track team had over ninety girls on the team and if girls still couldn’t play our team would have almost no one and the talent of the girls on the team would never be known. I hope that at some point there is no difference in attitudes towards men and women in sports. The coaches supported us all, but always had the mindset that the guys were capable of more. Woman can be capable of just as much and we need to show that and get the chance to show that. We will definitely continue to push towards equality- we have come so far already.

  6. mccauleyk says:

    One point I would like to bring up is how Title IX has affected our very own Merrimack College. As some of you may know, a division one women’s hockey team will be joining our list of competitive sports in 2015 I believe. The reason for this soon to be addition to Merrimack sports is because Merrimack was not complying with Title IX. Our men’s hockey team is D1, but where is our women’s team? Due to MC disobeying the laws of Title IX, a case broke out to adjust the rules. It seems strange that a law passed specifically for gender equity in sports is still being broken at our very own school. As a female athlete here at Merrimack I was stunned to hear about the disobeying of Title IX.

    Another interesting point I came across while doing research a few weeks ago is how Saudi Arabian women are technically allowed to participate in the Olympics but have yet to show up. I was most interested when I came across a video interview with Saudi Arabian women, Naur Fitiany, who spoke about the Olympics for Saudi Arabian women. Saudi Arabian practices a conservative form of Islam which is why they were unable to play sports. Naur Fitiany created a women’s basketball team as well as an organization in Jeddah Saudi Arabia. The organization now teaches young children about competing in sports, especially basketball. The basketball team continues to develop since these women have gained the ability to play sports. The next obstacle these women now face is qualifying for a spot at the Olympic Games. Technically Saudi women are allowed to compete at the Olympics, but the trouble the women of Jeddah are facing is qualifying for the Olympics. Though these women are now working towards qualifying for the Olympics, huge leaps and bounds need to continue to be made in Saudi Arabia for women to be even legitimized in sports.

    Though Title IX has made some phenomenal strides for women in sports, there is still a lot of work to be done before “gender equity” is actually achieved.

    I apologize for doing this but I cant figure out how to hyperlink on a reply here are two things you may want to check out:
    1. This is MC’s new compliance with Title IX Law
    2. Interview with Naur Fitiany about her team and organization

  7. lizzegan says:

    In response to Andrew, I completely understand how unfair it is to have your indoor track team abolished due to have to fun women’s ice hockey instead. The track team being abolished takes away an entire option for both men and women. In high school I ran indoor track but when title IX was instilled and my high school was able to have a women’s ice hockey team, I was forever grateful. As a female, playing mens varsity hockey is basically out of the question for safety reasons, even mens JV hockey is dangerous for girls because a lot of us simply don’t have the weight to throw around like the guys do, so when a women’s team was created 26 girls were able to lace up their skates once again and play a sport that they love.

  8. Andrew Lefavor says:

    The late instituition of female athletes in Arab nations stems from their culture. They do not hold women in high value and have oppressed them for centuries. The addition of these women to international athletics is a huge stride forward. Moving on to Title IX, Title IX has been effective in allowing more and more women and girls to participate in sports. However, Title IX has also lead to some problems. At my high school, not every sport was funded by the school. Teams like wrestling and Indoor Track had to come up with the funds to pay for buses and other fees by themselves. The Indoor Track team was the largest in the school and desperately needed funding. Due to a Title IX issue however, the funding that was going to given to the track team was instead used to create a Women’s Ice Hockey team because their was an uneven number of men’s and women’s teams. This lead to the indoor track team being abolished, before later recieving funding from the school and restarting. Title IX has the potential to be very unfair to those athletes who simply want to participate but can’t because funding is required to go towards women.

  9. lonatim says:

    I agree with stanleyr and minteerm that women have made great progress since Title IX was instituted. Women are becoming more equal in every aspect, even in sports. I think lapierren made a great point in bringing up the difference in men and women’s sports, for example lacrosse or softball. I am in favor of this and I don’t think this makes women unequal. Women are built differently than men, no matter what anyone says we do not have the same strength or size that males do and therefore our sports should be tailored to be a little less violent and aggressive. This doesn’t mean I am against equality for women, I am a woman and absolutely think we should have every opportunity that those of the opposite gender have, but I think we have reached that aspect already in sports.
    To answer gargerc’s last question I think it took so long for countries like Saudi Arabia to allow women to participate in sports because of their culture. We may believe that it is oppression that women weren’t allowed to participate, but it might be culturally offensive or against the norm for the female gender to play. We will never truly understand the culture and values of different countries because they are not what we believe, but I think we should judge less and keep in mind the differences in our lives.

  10. minteerm says:

    I agree with stanleyr in that women have made such positive progress since Title IX was put into effect and women were given the right to speak up and act as they chose. However, this was not that long ago, and the progress that women have made since the 1900s is remarkable compared to farther back in history. Women are becoming increasingly more prominent in society every day and will continue to do so, just like all minorities striving for equality. I believe that we already have gender equality in sports and the gap is becoming very small between male and female sports. Nowadays, women can stand up for themselves and ask to be or fight for the right to be on sports teams with men. Yes, women are looked upon as fragile sometimes and unable to go through the aggression of sports that their male counterparts endure, but look at lacrosse and field hockey for example. Girls are checking each other left and right and have the strength and ability to be aggressive. While society may look at women in a protective light, this isn’t the case for all women, and we are making that more obvious every day. Girls in high school can now fight for the right to play on football teams that were once only offered to men. As far as foreign countries like Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Brunel, like stanleyr said, they have more traditional governments and women are expected to be calm and hidden from aggression. In a newscast about Franklin Foer’s book: “How Soccer Explains the World”, Foer explains that Iranian women were banned from arenas (like the World Cup) where competitive sports took place. This was not only because
    the government didn’t want women to see men running around in shorts, but also because they didn’t want women to be around or witness the aggression and passion among the fans. However, this law was reversed when the government realized that women could calm this passion and help keep the fans under control. Countries everywhere recognize that women are more important and neccesary than previously presumed. Women now have every right that men do and can speak up for themselves. For example, in the Brave New Voices Grand Slam Final 2013 in Washington DC, four girls spoke up in an effective way about the stereotypes of women and overcoming them. They expressed their disgust in skimpy halloween costumes and explained that you don’t have to be something “cute” or “sexy” to make a statement. Make a stand and “Be a Monster”. Don’t conform to society’s view of a “poor, innocent woman”, and we will continue to push toward equality in all aspects of the word.

  11. Nick Kirkham says:

    Women still have a lot left to be desired in terms of professional sports. Most people don’t give as much thought to them. A huge reason for this is the fact that the media doesn’t televise nearly as much women’s sporting. The majority of the population believes that men are better than women at sports, which in most cases in anatomically true. Men and women’s bodies were simply “designed” differently. Other than that, the media doesn’t portray women’s sports because there’s not as much contact. As much as some people would not like to admit it, they watch sports for the brutal, physical aspect. Who doesn’t get riled up when a batter charges the mound, or hockey players throw off their gloves. Men are just more prone to being aggressive and fighting than women. Sometimes, the rules in certain sports prevent girls from being as aggressive, as Nicole mentioned. Despite all the differences in male and female sports, they still should receive equal treatment.

  12. julianoa says:

    There are many serious forms of prejudice in the United States, but there is no sharper example of discrimination today than that which operates against girls and women who take part in competitive sports. Women have made countless advances in the past hundred years but still do not receive equal treatment as men. Gender equality in sports will not be reached until equality in all aspects of life is achieved. Laura Trott, for example happens to be exceptionally good at cycling. We can all relate to her – whether it be about her relationship with her parents or her sibling rivalry with her older sister. Trott was one of the breakthrough stars at London 2012, yet, most of our mainstream media (NBC) still continues to ignore women’s sport. Only brief highlights were shown to capture this remarkable feat. Obviously there is a lot of change and new movements that need to occur.

  13. bailotd says:

    Title IX has changed the world of sports in America. This equality is not experienced around the world. That is why countries in the Middle East do not allow women to participate in sports. It mainly has to do with the fact that it goes against their cultural, and even sometimes religious beliefs about the way women act, especially in the presence of men. It will be hard to change the policies in these countries, but countries like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Brunei have taken the steps to change the that culture. These three countries are leading by example, and hopefully, other countries will soon follow. One day all countries will have strong female athletes, and the playing field between men and women will be even.

  14. carignanm says:

    As lapierren said, we have, as a group, moved towards encouraging women to play sports. However, women sports do not have as much support as the men. The attitude of people must change before women and men sports are treated equally, with the same amount of respect. For example, at midnight madness the men basketball team had a line of cheerleaders to cheer as they entered when their names were announced, but the women team did not get this. Same sport, same place, same time, but entirely different outcome. And this is America, not a place where women are believed to be owned by men. We believe in equality, yet we do not manage the same basic level of respect. People also go to more men sports games than women sports. In high school, the men hockey games always had many fans, but the women hockey games had a couple students and parents. Women might be participating in sports, but they will never become prevalent without a change in attitude.

  15. stanleyr says:

    It is extremely important that women have the ability to participate in sports at every level. Being part of an athletic team helps individuals learn how to work well with others, develop and maintain a healthy lifestyle and escape from the stresses of daily life. Being active boosts self esteem and increases confidence which, in this world full of pressure on women, is imperative. Women have made countless advances in the past hundred years but still do not receive equal treatment as men. Gender equality in sports will not be reached until equality in all aspects of life is achieved. I believe that women will continue to push towards equality but it will take years before men are no longer seen as superior to women. It will take some countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Brunei longer to grant women more rights because their government has a more traditional mindset. Ultimately government has the final say in how women will be treated in society. As mentioned in the original post, more funding (from the government) is provided for men’s sports. In conclusion, women should have equal opportunities as men to compete and participate in an activity they are passionate about.

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  17. lapierren says:

    I think that we have moved a long way since back in the 1970’s when a lot of women didn’t play sports as much and didn’t receive as many scholarships. Women sports are a very common thing today, and they are very successful. I agree that I think women and men’s sports are very different, but I don’t entirely see how that makes them unequal. Some of the sports definitely have different rules, but some on the other hand are exactly the same. For example lacrosse for boys and for girls are extremely different sports. Starting from the type of stick that they use, to the rules that they have. Girls aren’t allowed to have contact in lacrosse like boys are. This to some could be seen as unequal but to me it just seems safer and more logical for girls not to have contact. But I do understand the viewpoint that sports should be equal so if they wanted to make girls and boys lacrosse the same women would just have to change their style of stick, wear pads, and change up the rules. But not all sports are different based on gender. For example soccer is the same exact sport for boys and girls. I see the point as to why people think that sports should be gender equal and have all of the same rules and guidelines, but I just don’t necessarily agree with it or think that it’s a big deal that they’re different.

    • saggesej says:

      I believe Title IX was the first step forward in equalizing men and women in sports. Today, it’s recognizable that mostly men’s professional sports teams are televised and paid. Hardly ever do you see a professional women’s team on TV, and do they even get paid like men? In an article (, it discusses just why women haven’t been as successful in making all women’s sports professional. The main reasoning is because women’s sports don’t have the ability to gain a large fan group, get sponsors, or TV support. I’ve always wondered why, though. Why don’t women have people willing to watch and support them in athletics? Male competition in the U.S., it seems, is much greater than that in other countries across the world. I feel there will always be that sexual bias; that men are superior and physically capable of doing more than women. It’s sad to think that women aren’t able to make a living, like professional soccer, baseball, basketball, football, and hockey teams can. I don’t think women will ever really get the attention and support they need to be treated like men in athletics.

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