The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association will begin a year of celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Title IX legislation this month.
The WIAA celebrates its 126th anniversary this year, and among all the events that have occurred since 1896, perhaps nothing has been more impactful on high school sports than the Title IX of the Educational Amendments in 1972.
Two years prior to the passage of Title IX, the WIAA conducted its first girls tournament with the State Girls Swimming & Diving Championships on Oct. 31, 1970, at Beloit High School. During the 1970-71 school year, the WIAA conducted two other State Tournaments, including gymnastics and track and field.
Tournament participation that year reached 4,312 girls. Fast forward to 2020-21, and 60,637 girls, including multiple sport student-athletes, participated in 11 sports. A 12th sport was added in 2021-22 with the sponsorship of girls wrestling, which launches the recognition of the 50th Anniversary of Title IX on Jan. 29 at the La Crosse Center in La Crosse, Wis.
According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, the year prior to the passage of Title IX, there were fewer than 300,000 girls who participated in high school sports nationally, or about one in every 27 girls who attended school. Two years later, that figure jumped to 1,300,169, and by the 1977-78 school year, girls participation exceeded 2 million – an increase of almost 1.7 million in just six years. The number of girls involved in high school sports has continued to increase since those historic years, and currently more than 3.4 million girls are taking advantage of the opportunity to participate in these vital, life-changing programs.
The lives of millions of girls have been enriched through participation in interscholastic opportunities since 1972, and the WIAA will be recognizing some of the pioneers and those individuals that paved the way for future generations during the next 12 months.