The "Year" of Women in Sports: Why Stop at One?

By Grappendorf, Heidi | JOPERD--The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, May-June 2013 | Go to article overview

The "Year" of Women in Sports: Why Stop at One?


Grappendorf, Heidi, JOPERD--The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance


During and after the 2012 Olympics, I saw several headlines and articles that referred to the games as the "year of the woman," "the women's games," and "team Title IX." A breakout Olympics, a springboard for future female athletes, a shining moment could all be terms to describe the Olympic successes of female athletes last year. Besides the many highlights and thrilling victories, particularly for U.S. women, the 2012 Summer Olympics was the first time the United States had more women competing than men. U.S. women earned more medals than women from any other nation, and more medals than U.S. men. Journalists, experts in the fields, and even legend Billie Jean King noted that this was not coincidental, because we are celebrating the 40th anniversary of Title IX. Passed in 1972, Title IX is the law that banned sex discrimination in educational programs that receive federal funding and ultimately contributed to soaring participation of females in sport in the United States.

There is no question that I ale IX has changed the participation landscape for female athletes. More girls and women at both the high school and college level continue to compete in record numbers (Acosta & Carpenter, 2012; National Federation of State High School Associations, 2012). It is gratifying to know that girls and women have more participation opportunities than ever before, and that the Olympic accomplishments may inspire and motivate continued growth of participation in all sports. Inarguably, sport is a powerful tool that has the capacity to create the inspiration, motivation, desired social change, and progress that women's sports advocates have been fighting for for many decades.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

I would venture to say that the creators of Title IX had the ultimate vision of a year like this. The 40th anniversary of Title IX. The success of the U.S. women at the Olympic Games. Then, only a month after the Olympic Games, the long overdue move by Augusta to accept female membership. A gold medal year. However, I do not think this has to be a once-in-a-lifetime sort of year. Why are we limiting ourselves to the "year" of women in sports?

Knowing how influential Title IX has been, I suggest that we utilize this momentous year and ride the success wave to not only push for advanced opportunities, but to also address the social issues that have plagued women's sports for years. I suggest that the successes of this year have provided us an opportunity, new battery life, more fuel, an opening, a reminder that there is still work to be done. Although we have much to celebrate, let us not forget the issues that are still out there and that need to be addressed.

The Continued Underrepresentation of Women in Leadership

The underrepresentation of women on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) parallels the lack of women in leadership in sport within the United States. Acosta and Carpenter (2012) found 20.3% of all athletic directors to be female, with 42.9% of female teams being coached by females. These percentages have been stagnant for years. Regarding the number of women on the IOC, according to a June 2012 report, 20 of the 106 (18.8%) committee members were women (IOC, 2012).

Honest Compliance with Title IX

The fact that the Australian women's basketball team and the Japanese women's soccer team had to fly in coach while their male counterparts rode in business class sorely reminded me of ongoing Title IX violations. …

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