To celebrate Women’s History Month, ESPN is discussing Title IX in a three-part video series. The series features female sports writers and coaches talking about the impact of Title IX, the pros and cons that have developed from it, its influence on their own careers, and its impact on gender notions. Johnette Howard, a sports writer for ESPN New York, says:
It changed the way that boys and men looked at girls and women and what was possible for them. There was this new confidence you were showing and you were doing something that men valued or that boys valued that you played with everyday, and so when you show you’re good at something, maybe when they’re going down the street to play, they’re like, “Hey, come on, let’s go!” And you get this whole deeper friendship and deeper experience in life.
Along with discussing the pros of Title IX, the women talk about the negative connotations the legislation has been saddled with. They highlight the oft-repeated notion that Title IX caused men’s sports to be dropped, though program elimination is usually due to disinterest and/or athletic department administrations’ decisions about fund allocations for sports. They also note that while men’s programs are dropped, so are women’s programs. Melissa Isaacson, an ESPN Chicago columnist, says:
It’s really unfortunate because it’s not just a misconception. I think it’s brought about a real resentment and an unfair resentment of Title IX for things like wrestling and gymnastics and some of the minor men’s sports being eliminated, when in fact, women’s minor sports are being eliminated at the same time. Participation was down. But everything for awhile there seemed to get blamed on Title IX.
Jemele Hill, another ESPN columnist, chimed in:
What they don’t often talk about in those controversies is how one of the reasons that the men’s sports were eliminated is because the big revenue male sports, such as football, overspend. And that has a lot to do with why those sports are eliminated and I think that Title IX and women’s sports just became an easy target.
The panelists also highlight that even thirty-nine years after the passage of Title IX, women still face great disparities when it comes to sports.
When you look at the statistics for salary, participation, teams, revenue, money spent, or anything women still trail significantly in every category.
We thank ESPN for celebrating Women’s History Month, and bringing these amazing women on to talk about Title IX. We hope their words can bring to the light the work still needed to be done.