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Title IX and Sport Leadership

This is an excerpt from Sports in American History-2nd Edition by Gerald Gems,Linda Borish & Gertrud Pfister.

Since the enactment of Title IX legislation in 1972, girls and women have gained access to virtually all sports, from Little League baseball to collegiate wrestling. Indeed, the feats of female athletes have been among the most impressive achievements in the generation since the enactment of Title IX. Girls’ participation in interscholastic sports has risen continually.In 1971, a total of 294,015 girls played high school sports, but by 2013 that figure had grown to 3 million (Summers), and a 2001 survey found that 48 percent of all girls between the ages of 6 and 17 played on an organized team (Eitzen and Sage 318).


In the high school ranks, girls made up 3,222,723 of the athletes, while boys numbered 4,490, 854 in 2013. Whereas female players accounted for only 16,000 of the intercollegiate athletes in 1972 (15 percent), more than 200,000 competed in 2014. Although females neared parity in participation, women made only incremental advancement in leadership roles (www.acostacarpenter.org 1, 6A).


Despite such remarkable growth, Title IX has proved a mixed blessing. Whereas more than 90 percent of women’s collegiate teams were coached by females in 1972, that number dwindled to 43.4 percent by 2014. Similarly, female administrators directed 90 percent of women’s intercollegiate athletic programs in 1972 but only 22.3 percent by 2014 (www.acostacarpenter.org 6A). Male athletic directors retained their power when programs merged, and they tended to hire other men as head coaches (Acosta and Carpenter 64).


Under the NCAA, 80 percent of American universities still had not reached compliance with gender equity standards in 2004, more than 30 years after Title IX became law. And although women accounted for 56 percent of all college students in 2003, they received only 36 percent of athletic budget funding and only 32 percent of the money allocated for athletic scholarships (Priest 29; Yiamouyiannis 53). In 2003, men held the vast majority of NCAA leadership roles, including that of president, 15 of the 20 positions on the executive committee, and all of the conference commissioners’ offices at the Division I-A level (Lapchick). In 2014, men still continued to hold the vast majority of NCAA leadership roles, including president, although women had gained some positions on the board of directors.


Women have made great strides in executive positions in sports administration at the professional level, yet they remain underrepresented. In the NFL, women held 21 positions at or above the vice-presidential level in 2014, an increase of 5 percent over the previous season. In the NBA, 42 women held such ranks in the 2013 - 2014 season, and 3 women (Jeanie Buss of the Los Angeles Lakers, Matina Kolokotronis of the Sacramento Kings, and Karen Gail Miller, controlling owner of the Utah Jazz) held ownership. Among the franchises, 58 women held vice-presidential duties, 16.6 percent of the total. In MLB, women filled 30 percent of the jobs in the league office in 2014, but that represented a decrease of 5.6 percent from the previous season. Among senior executives, women accounted for 21.4 percent, a slight drop from 2013. Four teams listed women as partial owners, and 61 women held vice-presidential rank in 24 franchises. Some people have voiced concern over the seeming retrenchment in MLB and the slow pace of change; but the area in which gender inequity is most noticeable is in sports media, where women represent a distinct minority, and almost all sports editors remain white males, who opt to hire other white males. A 2010 study found that "the percentage of sports editors who were women or people of color fell 2.3 percentage points from 11.7 percent in 2008 to 9.42 percent in 2010. White males in particular increased by 3.0 percentage points for sports editors" (Moritz).

Learn more about Sports in American History, Second Edition.