Title IX, Soccer Moms, and Pioneering Players
Today, all over the United States, soccer is seen as a “normal” sport for girls to play. You see them playing in television advertisements, in movies, and on television shows; there’s no shame or shock in the activity. You see them in their uniforms in restaurants and shopping malls. For a high school girl, it is one of the most popular sports to play and has the additional carrot of there being a significant number of college scholarships available. In short, it is a very common activity for American girls.
Things were very different four decades ago. The year 1972 is seen as a watershed for all women’s sports, because Title IX was passed into law that year. Title IX of the Education Amendments Act was a federal ruling mandating gender equity in athletic opportunities for colleges that received federal funds. Sporting equality was hardly the focal point of the legislation, but its effects proved far reaching. Since both private and public universities and colleges received government funding, they had to adjust their athletic budgets in proportion to the ratio of male and female athletes and, as one writer penned, “The edict developed into perhaps the most contentious issue in the history of college sports.” Further guidelines in 1993 required that the male–female ratio of participants reflect the university’s total enrollment, and not just a school’s athletes. Though this was not the intent, detractors have long blamed Title IX for any reductions in funding for male teams.