The Education Amendments of 1972 was legislation designed to end discrimination (on the basis of sex) in higher education. Not only did it challenge discrimination, but also the management of financial aid. University students were allowed to have federal funds directly to them, instead of the university. The notable section of the Education Amendments of 1972 is Title IX. The section states : “no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.” Title IX does not specifically mention sports, but it had a major impact on sports for girls. More funds were given to men’s athletic programs, because they were viewed as more important. This blatant act of discrimination was noted by feminists, women’s sports advocates, and politicians. Sports are considered a school program and it was sexist that women were not given equal opportunity. Patsy T. Mink and Birch Bayh were the authors of the legislation.
Patsy T. Mink (1927-2002) was a congresswoman who represented Hawaii (1965-1971 then 1971-1977 and then 1990-2002). Her own experiences with sex and race discrimination motivated her to put forth legislation such the Education Amendments of 1972.
Mink was a congresswoman from Hawaii and Bayh was a senator from Indiana. Together they were able to get this legislation passed. Title IX emerges at a time when women were demanding political, legal, economic, and social equality with men. Women were gaining more power in the public sphere in the United States. Schools became resistant to implementing Title IX. One of the ways to circumvent giving women their own sports teams was to allocate more funds to cheerleading squads. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) was vehemently opposed to Title IX. This organization was responsible for the governance of college sports in the United Sates. Detractors made the claim that Title lX was threatening the existence of men’s teams in college sports.
Birch Bayh served as a senator from Indiana from 1963 to 1981. He had previously worked on the Equal Rights Amendment. That was defeated by conservatives, but the the Education Amendments of 1972 was a success. Bayh was involved in many women’s rights issues and has been called “the father of Title IX.”
There were also legal considerations that were made by the courts. There were questions asked what if boys wanted to play on girls teams or if it was a good idea to open all sports to women. There was trepidation that allowing girls to compete on boys teams would harm them. There were cases in which girls teams did not exist, but there were girls who wanted to participate in sport. A multitude of court cases soon emerged testing the boundaries of Title IX. Adams v. Baker (1975) was an example of this. A female student wanted to try out for the wrestling team at her school. A women’s team did not exist, but she was denied the opportunity to participate on the men’s team. The court ruled in her favor sating it violated Title IX and her right to equal protection. If there were no sports teams for girls they should be allowed to try out and play if qualified. One case made a similar ruling known as Yellow Springs Exempted School Board of Education v. Ohio High School Athletic Association (1978). Barring females from sports competition on the presumption they all are physically weaker is flawed. Mixed teams could be acceptable as long as girls met the requirements. Restricting all girls would be a violation of due process rights. Legal challenges and sex discrimination would continue, but this did not stop the rise of talented female athletes.
There has been progress. Around 1971, there were only 300,000 women participating in high school interscholastic sports. The number increased dramatically to 2,000,000. More sports scholarships were opened to women. The women who participated in sports in their early lives went on to become great athletes and pursue other occupations. Although an amazing amount of advancement has been made in such little time, discrimination is always present. Women are under represented in coaching and administrative functions in intercollegiate sports. The challenges are present, but the positive results are more visible. Title IX was a major victory indirectly for public health. More girls and women were exercising than ever before in the United States. A new paradigm of woman emerged which was stronger and more confident. Title IX was officially renamed in 2002 to the Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act in honor of the congresswoman.