Written on July 16, 2012 at 1:05 pm , by FITNESS Editors
Written by Lindsey Emery, freelance writer
It’s hard to imagine growing up in a world where you couldn’t run as far or as fast as you wanted. But before June 23, 1972, when Title IX was created, women were nowhere near being placed on an equal playing field with men in sports, and people seriously thought that if you were a girl you couldn’t safely complete a mile, let alone 13.1 or 26.2. Some people even thought your uterus might drop out if you did—true story.
Though Title IX’s birthday has passed, we got the chance to catch up with some of the fastest, strongest, most competitive women at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in Eugene, OR, to see how it has changed their lives for the better.
Thank you Title IX for never making us choose. “I entered high school in 1971, and we didn’t have a girls’ cross country or track team. We had a track club, and the longest distance women could race at the time was 800 meters (1/2 mile),” says running legend Joan Benoit Samuelson, 55, who won a gold medal in the first-ever women’s Olympic marathon in 1984, just 28 years ago. “By my junior and senior year, women could run the mile, but if they did, they couldn’t participate in any other events, for fear they might overexert themselves.”
“I can’t even imagine what that must have been like,” says Alissa McKaig, 26, who placed 8th in the Olympic Marathon Trials and 11th in the 10,000-meter Trials. “We grew up in a time when you were supposed to be active. In fact, I wasn’t willing to choose between soccer and running in high school, so I did both. I would compete in a track meet, and then go play a soccer game—that never would’ve happened before Title IX.”
Written on June 22, 2012 at 3:01 pm , by Colleen Moody
Tomorrow marks the 40th anniversary of Title IX, where women were given access to the same federally funded athletic programs as men. Though we’ve come a long way, there’s still more work to be done! According to the Women’s Sports Foundation, recent stats show that by age 14, girls drop out of sports twice the rate of boys. That’s why WSF has teamed up with Gatorade to launch the nationwide PSA Keep Her in the Game. Check it out below and go to keepherinthegame.org to learn about programs you can get involved in and how to donate to help give girls access to sports programs nationwide. And to celebrate Title IX tomorrow, change your Facebook and Twitter pictures to a photo of your 14-year-old self (or younger!) and tell your followers why you’re glad you stayed with sports. Use the hashtag #KeepHerInTheGame to track how sports have changed others lives all day!
More from FITNESS: Run the World (Girls!) 3 More Ways to Celebrate the Anniversary of Title IX
Written on June 5, 2012 at 12:01 pm , by Karla Walsh
Two important fitness landmarks are celebrated this month: National Running Day (tomorrow) and the 40th anniversary of the passing of the Title IX legislation (June 23)! In honor of these healthy holidays, here are a few fun facts about running and women from Running USA‘s State of the Run report.
- 7 million+: Women finished a road race in the U.S. during 2011, a record high
- 800 meters: The longest distance women were allowed to compete in during the 1960 Rome Olympics
- 1972: The 1,500 meter race, the new longest distance, is added to the women’s track lineup at the Munich Olympics (the marathon is added at the 1984 Los Angeles Games)
- Less than 20: Percentage of finishers during running events in the 1970s that were female
- More than 53: Percentage of finishers during running events in 2011 that were female
- 200+: Women-only running events in the U.S. last year (The top five in terms of participation: Nike Women’s Half, Disney Princess Half, St. Luke’s Women’s Fitness Celebration 5K, MORE/FITNESS Half, Tufts Health Plank 10K)
Check back tomorrow for our exclusive interview with Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to run the Boston Marathon!
Written on May 9, 2012 at 3:27 pm , by Karla Walsh
Just 40 years ago, girls were often sitting on the sidelines while boys had fun on the athletic playing fields. Before the landmark Title IX legislation was passed in 1972, 30,000 women (or one in 27) participated in high school sports. Today, that number is more like 3,000,000 (or one in 2.5)! Another fun fact: The 2012 Olympic Games will be the first in which male and female events will be held in equal numbers.
So this summer, leading up to the official 40th anniversary of the law on June 23, here are three ways we’re celebrating the fittest females we know.
- Relive all of the greatest women’s sports moments and superstars with espnW‘s Power of IX. They are counting down the Top 40 Female Athletes of the Past 40 Years, revealing a new selection each weekday. Click on over to see a video and details about each winner as they are counted down.
- While you’re at espnW, add your photo to the mosaic of female athletes! You’ll join the ranks of pros from Billie Jean King to Serena Williams as well as “everyday” women who love to golf, play frisbee and swim. Simply upload your image and explain why “Title IX is mine.”
- To take the Title IX celebrations to the gym, we’re wearing adorable tops by the aptly named company Title Nine. Their Power of 9 line includes eight tees which will be rolled out throughout the summer. As an added bonus, nine percent of sales will benefit Starting Block, a non-profit that helps girls across the U.S. get involved with sports. Our favorite designs so far: Champion Girl (seen above) and Determination.
Now tell us: What does Title IX mean to you and how has the women’s sports landscape changed since you started playing?