This past weekend on ESPN, they dedicated a lot of time and programming to the 40th anniversary of Title IX. I loved the piece on the 1999 Women’s World Cup Champions, and there were other great stories, interviews, and games. I had such mixed emotions while watching it.
Julie Foudy and some of the other players from the 99 World Cup team were born in 1972. They called themselves Title IX babies. I guess that makes me a Title IX toddler. There is no doubt Title IX allowed me to make a living doing something I love to do – coach. Title IX had less impact on me as a college athlete. When I graduated from high school in Texas in 1987, I think there was only one college in Texas who gave soccer scholarships – Midwestern State. Texas and Texas A&M did not have intercollegiate teams. SMU and TCU had teams but no scholarships. Most of my older friends went out-of-state to schools who had soccer scholarships like UNC, NC State, UCF, Virginia, and Barry University, which is where I went.
I say mixed emotions because Title IX was not and is not always followed or enforced. I think it was 1992 or 93, a lawyer in Anniston, AL, whose daughter played soccer, sued the SEC for not abiding by Title IX. This lawsuit forced Auburn University to start and fund a women’s soccer team and eventually every school in the SEC and Big 12 followed suit. The Big 10 schools who did not have women’s soccer started adding it, and the effects just kept trickling down to the smaller schools and conferences. While Title IX was signed in 1972, it was the mid-90’s before it was broadly implemented at the college level.
I think about the evolution of Title IX, and I compare it to marriage equality. I wonder if Hope will be a marriage equality baby or toddler or pre-teen or teenager. Some states believe in marriage equality and some states don’t. It’s like some colleges were quicker than others to fund women’s soccer. The fight for marriage equality seems to be in the courts, but it is a slow process. I realize Prop 8 and DOMA being ruled unconstitutional will not have the sweeping effects that the Title IX lawsuit did in the SEC, but the 2 are on similar paths of being settled in the courts rather than practiced in good faith.
It looks like Hope is coming along in the fight for marriage equality around the same time I did for Title IX. I hope she does not have to wait for marriage equality to become a reality as long as I did to feel the full impact of Title IX.