- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
It is possible that you have not been aware that 1975 was International Women's Year, so designated by the United Nations. We sense this ambitious description did not hold true in other fields of endeavor, but there is no doubt that in sports women made it in a big way in 1975. Most significantly, Title IX, that bane of male chauvinists, became law on July 21 (Independence Day, some female chauvinists call it), which meant that for women in most schools the need to hold cake sales to raise money to support second-rate athletic programs in third-rate facilities is finally a thing of the past.
For example, the budget for women's sports at the University of Texas has jumped during the past three years from $27,000 to $58,000 to $128,000. UCLA's women's budget, largest in the country, has risen to $180,000. Fifteen national championships are sponsored by the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women, and 750 colleges are now members of the AIAW. In high schools more than 1.3 million girls have been active in sports in 1975, an increase of 342% in four years.
Women have won the right—often going to court to secure that right—to participate in sporting activities hitherto considered man's domain, including such "hard" sports as football, baseball and soccer. Even the Justice Department's gymnasium in Washington, once an all-male sanctuary, is now open to women.
A basketball game between women's teams from Queens College of New York and Immaculata College of Pennsylvania, two of the best in the country, was watched by 12,000 spectators in Madison Square Garden in February, and an all-woman track meet in the same arena a week or so later drew 13,000. Chris Evert became the first tennis player, male or female, to win more than $300,000 in tournament earnings in one year. Women golfers played for purses totaling $1.74 million. Women bowlers competed for $50,000 in one tournament, the largest single prize—for men or women—in bowling history. Women skiers vied for $90,000 last winter, and Colgate-Palmolive is raising that to $255,000 this coming season. Plans are under way for professional leagues in women's basketball and women's softball.
Despite all these specifics, perhaps the most significant advance in 1975 was a widespread public awareness that women were increasingly active in sports and an acceptance, even approval, of that fact. With such acceptance came warnings. Last week a conference on women's sports in Washington discussed legal issues, publicity, media relations, student involvement, parent-community participation, financial support. At another women-in-sports conference last week, this one at Immaculata College, Penn State Coach Joe Paterno, while encouraging women's athletics, pointedly mentioned difficulties that could arise if women follow too closely in the path of men's programs. Paterno warned specifically about recruiting, grants-in-aid, overemphasis on winning, differentiating between revenue-producing and nonrevenue-producing sports, scheduling of events years in advance, creating a top-heavy system of rules impossible to enforce, and the like.
In sum, women's sports are going bigtime—and that can be both good and bad.