Happy Birthday Title IX! Keep on Fighting.

Donna deVarona, who had no college swim programs to attend after the Olympics.

They learned the hard way that even groundbreaking civil rights laws are not self-executing.

Kelly Belanger. Invisible Seasons

Considering that an earthquake of legislation was enacted on June 23, 1972, you wouldn’t know it by looking at the newspaper archives. Title IX isn’t mentioned in the NY Times story on June 24, which references Nixon signing the “School Aid Bill.” The president’s major gripe about the bill is the lack of restriction on school busing. A tiny note towards the bottom mentions that colleges would lose funding if they discriminated against women in admission policies.

Front page of the NYT when Title IX is signed; most of the discussion about the Higher Education bill is about busing.
Title IX, almost a footnote at the time. Photo from NYTimes.com.

On that day, Kissinger was in talks with “Peking.” The Hurricane Agnes flood was devastating Pennsylvania. The president held a press conference on Domestic Matters, whose first question was about what the administration knew about the break-in at the Democratic Headquarters the previous week. Nixon said, “I know nothing.”

Looking back now, you’d think there was a switch flipped somehow (by Nixon) and voila! Megan Rapinoe and the WNBA burst like fireworks on to the scene. But that’s misleading. Title IX was a slow burn. People at the time didn’t see the fire kindled and, when they did, tried various endeavors to stamp it out. Those pushing for it were political animals, jockeying for position. No one thought about women playing sports. Some of the best ideas come as unintended consequences.

Continue reading “Happy Birthday Title IX! Keep on Fighting.”
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