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Sexism and its Affect on Female College Athletes

19 February 2009 No Comment

Sports are a form of activity that brings competition and the ultimate goal of winning with a set of rules that are used to protect not only the participants but to protect the integrity of that sports activity. Even though the athletes are opponents on the playing field when it comes down to game time it is the sportsmanship before and after the game that is most important regardless of the differences between the teams and their players. Billie Jean King, one of the greatest tennis players of her era, comments about women and their participation in sports, “Women’s sports is still in its infancy. The beginning of women’s sports in the United States started in 1972, with the passage of Title 9 for girls to finally get athletic scholarships (Billie Jean).” Thirty plus years later, some of the greatest athletes are women, in such sports as basketball, softball, swimming, running, volleyball, hockey, football, the list goes on and yet reflecting from Billie Jeans quote, it could said that women and sports are still in its teenage years and barely reaching adulthood. Women are struggling to find their identity and feel the pressure from outside influences to tell them who they are and how they should be. Therefore, we first have understand the roles of female college athletes as it relates to Title IX, understand the stereotypes that surround female college athletes, and how to enter the adult stage of female college sports.

Before the melting pot of athletes started to become more visible not just in the United States but across the world, there were very few athletes and very little in what women could participate. Sena Christian mentions in her article “The radical potential of women in sports” that before Title IX was enacted, women account for two percent in participating in sports. However, after Title IX became into law, in 2001 that participation rose to forty-three percent (Christian). Therefore, it would seem that with the help of Title IX, the radical explosion of female athletes has increased dramatically and so seven years later one would assume that percentage could be in the high fifties by now.

Now that we know what the statistics say about female college athletes, the next step is understand how Title IX helped female college athletes. It was thanks to Patsy T. Mink, a Congresswoman from Hawaii, who helped write the Title IX Amendment of the Higher Education Act, later renamed to Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act. This Amendment states, “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 (Mink).” Therefore, by law, women can participate and receive benefits in any sports they choose to participate in and any discrimination found in their participation is punishable by the law.

However, in recent years, it seems that the enforcement of this law has had its problems by both the U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights and the colleges themselves. In an article written by Sara Lipka and Brad Wolverton, “Title IX Enforcement Called ‘Deeply Troubling’”, can be summarize with at least two major points and that being money and opportunity. These two authors talk about the millions colleges are spending for male athletes and their participation in sports such as basketball and football compared to women’s sports in which they lose more money as the amount of money for male athletes increases.

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