• Thu. Aug 18th, 2022

Editorial: Title IX is the dreammaker

ByRandall B. Phelps

Jul 10, 2022

Even after Title IX was passed in 1972, it wasn’t easy. There were glaring inequalities in everything from uniforms and sneakers to locker rooms and playgrounds.

And, as legendary New Mexico women’s basketball coach Don Flanagan explained to Journal sportswriter Ken Sickenger, the skill levels of female athletes weren’t as refined in the 1970s.

“I thought, ‘This is never going to work,'” said Flanagan, who left men’s basketball coaching at Window Rock High in Arizona to take over the women’s program at Eldorado High School, where he won 11 state championships from 1979 to 1995. “These kids had never been coached and the skill level was so lacking. They didn’t know how to be strong with the ball. There were jump balls on almost every possession. It was not pretty.

It was the mid-1970s. Women’s high school basketball was slowly but surely becoming part of the American landscape after the passage of landmark federal Title IX legislation.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibited discrimination on the basis of sex in any educational program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. This meant that schools such as Eldorado High and the University of New Mexico, where Flanagan had made UNM’s women’s basketball program a source of revenue and a national attendance leader, had to provide athletic opportunities. equal to girls and women.

Journal Sports staff chronicled the impact of Title IX in a series of stories and columns last month. (Go to abqjournal.com/sports for this cover.)

Their reports show how few acts of Congress have transformed America like Title IX.

Title IX launched a nationwide sports boom for half of America – girls and women – while creating new opportunities for coaches, coaches, officials, and more, regardless of the sex.

Most importantly, it allowed girls to compete, train, test their abilities, learn to work as a team – lessons that helped them succeed in boardrooms and in politics; in the fields of medicine, science, law and education, even carrying them into space.

Of course, the fight for gender equity continued long after Title IX was passed and still exists today.

Just last year, a video comparing the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament weight room to the men’s went viral, illustrating that major differences persist in facilities for women’s and men’s sports.

But we have come a long way in 50 years. New Mexico’s first girls’ athletic meet was held in the spring of 1973, but full participation by Albuquerque schools did not begin until 1976. The New Mexico Girls’ Basketball State Tournaments -Mexico were held at school grounds or Tingley Coliseum in the early years and would not take place at The Pit until 1990. Shiprock and Kirtland Central played in the first high school girls’ championship at The Pit, drawing a crowd of 10,000 people.

“It was clearly the right thing to do,” Flanagan says.

Yes it was.

Although initially making no mention of the sport, Title IX has become known for its effect on athletics. But Title IX not only requires equal opportunity in sports, but also that financial aid be given on an equal footing. It was a radical change.

The Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1987 further required that all institutions that receive direct or indirect federal funding comply with Title IX. Almost all colleges today fall under its umbrella because their students receive federal financial aid, even if the schools themselves do not.

The NCAA initially lobbied against Title IX, fearing it would hurt men’s athletics. This was obviously on the wrong side of history. As women’s sports grew in popularity, the NCAA accepted the program, albeit reluctantly.

Some continue to argue that Title IX harms men’s sports, claiming that more men are interested in sports than women and that it is not fair to provide equal opportunities to both.

It is true that many men’s programs had to be cut so that universities could remain Title IX compliant. Football programs absorb a lot of scholarships which must be compensated by an equal amount of scholarships for women proportional to enrolment. A recent 153-page report found that the NCAA still spends significantly more on male athletes than female athletes.

Still, the growth has been phenomenal. In 1971, fewer than 300,000 girls participated in high school sports, which was about 8% of boys’ participation figures. Today, girls’ participation in sports has increased to 75% of boys’ participation.

Title IX has made dreams possible for countless girls and women in New Mexico. Names like Sandia basketball standout Olivia “OJ” Jones, who played at Arizona State and had a coaching career that took her to Indianapolis; Manzano track athlete Val Boyer, who recently retired as a city magistrate in Mesa, Arizona; Eldorado star basketball player Taryn Bachis, who spent 35 years as a coach and administrator at the Albuquerque Academy; Academy track athlete Ellen Hart, who competed in three varsity sports at Harvard; Sally Marquez, basketball, volleyball and track athlete from Manzano, executive director of the New Mexico Activities Association; and former Roswell and UNM basketball player Jaedyn De La Cerda, who signed to play professionally in Australia, might not be known if it weren’t for the Title IX.

For every one of those stars, there are thousands – if not tens of thousands – of other New Mexican girls and women who have been able to play sports and achieve their dreams on and off the court thanks to Title IX. Here’s to 50 years of pushing forward and keeping Title IX strong.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned because it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than that of the editors.