Title IX turns 40

I grew up before there was Title IX, graduating from high school the year before Title IX became law. What was it like back then (okay, way, way back then) for girls and women in average small town America? Where I lived, there were no high school sports for girls. If you wanted to “play” a sport, you could be a cheerleader. Except, you had to be cute, little, peppy and popular. That left out me, and most everyone else.

What to wear? There was very little sports apparel made for women. No sport’s bras  – not invented until 1975, and not perfected until much later. No athletic shoes – unless you count good old canvas sneakers, aka Keds. The only women’s sport’s apparel widely available (besides those darn cute cheerleader outfits) were for sports that highlighted individual women, who needed to look good while playing. You know – tennis, golf, swimming. Individual sports that required fancy equipment and lessons, so not open to just anyone.

Even though many of us did not benefit from Title IX in childhood, we all benefit today. Now women’s athletic gear is widely available to everyone, from  the pros to the weekend warriors. I even have a women’s specific bike AND a women’s specific tire pump. Women can compete in most sports in the professional and amateur levels. Women are no longer relegated to just being peppy cheerleaders, that is, unless they want to.When you watch the Olympics this year, think about the US women competitors who benefited from Title IX.

Huffygirl, all decked out in women’s athletic gear


Olympic Wrap-up

We’ve spent the last two weeks watching athletes do things that most of us cannot imagine doing, and some that we wonder why anyone WOULD do them. As the olympics draw to a close, these questions remain.

Why do bobsledders not wear socks? Did they evaluate their outfits and decide they were too cumbersome? “These socks are really slowing us down!”

How can Scotty Hamilton be so positive and enthusiastic year after year? While some find him corny, I always enjoy his cheery and upbeat commentary and his genuine delight when skaters stick a jump.

Were the olympics more interesting during communism? I’ve heard others raise this point over the last two weeks, and the consensus seems to be a resounding “YES.” When athletes battled economic hardship and persecution to train and compete, their performance seemed to stand for something. Now athletes from the  former communist countries live and train in the US. It doesn’t seem like they even belong to the countries they represent. For Americans, the victory of conquering communism and fascism, at least in sport if not in life, was fulfilling. “Miracle on Ice” thirty years ago, was more than just a hockey game to us. It was a theme that united us all and still resonates today.

Which raises another issue – why do we pretend that athletes are representing a particular country when they don’t even live there? Case in point – two pairs skaters who were US born and raised, “representing Japan” because their mother is Japanese? Can’t Japan muster up their own talent, or are they too busy making defective cars to care?

Why do we continue to pretend that curling is a sport and that anyone is interested in it? C’mon – it’s shuffle board on ice and just about as exciting.

Were the olympics more interesting when more athletes were doping? While dangerous, unhealthy and not advocated here, the doping accusations and scandal provided soap-opera-like drama and intrigue, which, admit it, we all love.

Are the current group of athletes so uninteresting that we had to bring in Michael Phelps? Olympic coverage is famous for adding poignant back-stories and interviews, but it was an insult to the winter athletes to bring in a summer athlete for a Bob Costas interview. How did he have any relevance? I thought Isobel the blind sled dog was more compelling, but again, had nothing to do with the olympics, unless they are planning to add blind dog sledding in 2014.

Is there any point to having cute olympic mascots and characters, other than selling smaller versions of same? Enough said.

Why did a city that often gets balmy weather in winter vie to host the winter olympics? When the olympics were ready to start with everything except the snow, Vancouver responded with “Hey, don’t blame us, we often get warm weather in the winter here.” Hmmm.

Would biathlon be more interesting if it had a cooler name? How about “target skiing” or “cross-country snipers?” While I appreciate the concept that it’s difficult to go from heart-pumping skiing to precision target shooting, the name sounds like a disease.

Why did we wait so long to add cool sports like snow cross and ski cross?

Does any one else think Apollo Ohno is less captivating since he’s been on “Dancing with the stars?” He’s gone from bad-boy speed skater to prom king in my book.

These questions and others may remain unanswered, at least until 2014 when we again hear (cue olympic music) dum, dum, dah dum dum dum dum…