Still a Runner

A Blog by Mary Lou Harris

Happy Birthday Title IX

Forty-one (41) years ago today, June 23, President Nixon signed Title IX into law.  It became effective July 1,1972, but I’m celebrating early.

Happy Birthday

Using a sports metaphor, Title IX did much to even the playing field in many areas of our lives. Since this is a blog mostly about running, let’s stick with athletics.

Title IX came along close to a decade late for athletic participation provisions to benefit me personally.  I’m still remembering those high school days where the only opportunity for this girl to compete at basketball was within a Phys. Ed. Class and – insult to injury – we were limited to a three-bounce dribble before we were required to pass the ball.  I thought perhaps my memories were out of proportion to the situation, but no.

Basketball

Basketball (Photo credit: mvongrue)

I checked out the timeline over at  Women’s Hoops Blog and there it is in the early 1960’s, but lifted in 1966 to allow for continuous, unlimited dribble.

Good grief, no wonder I’m still running.  All that bottled up energy from my school days waited half a life-time to fizz to the surface.

Today, the high school I attended has an array of competitive sports opportunities for girls, including cross-country, track, volleyball – and – basketball.  The first season of the girls basketball program in 1975 finished with a win-loss of 21/2.  That program has become the pride of the community, bringing home regional and state championships.

Today, I say thank you to a country where this is possible, where change doesn’t come overnight but persistence sets things right.  At races I direct, I see women competing in equal or greater numbers to men.  Their interest in sports and fitness was not stifled for lack of opportunity. The generations of young women who have since had the option of playing competitive sports at the high school and college level have developed strength and leadership skills needed in this complex world.

220px-BirchWorkout

Senator Bayh exercising with Title IX athletes at Purdue University ca 1970s

Like every major change in legislation, there is a cast of thousands who persisted and many tweaks were sheparded along the way. Among all of those who worked  to make Title IX a reality, one person stands out.  This morning, I say thank you Senator Birch Bayh for taking the leadership on this issue and getting it to the desk of President Nixon for his signature.

Senator, I’m out the door for a morning run in your honor.

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