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Title IX

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50th Anniversary of Title IX

The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association will begin a year of celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Title IX legislation.

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.

What is Title IX?

37 Words that Changed Everything

No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.

On June 23 of 1972, President Nixon signed Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 into law, opening doors and removing barriers that once prevented people, on the basis of sex, from participating in educational, athletic, and career opportunities of their choice.

Before this, athletic opportunities for females were scarce and limited mostly to intramurals. As the women’s civil rights movement gained momentum in the late 1960s and early 1970s, sex bias and discrimination in schools emerged as a main public policy concern.

Among other things, Title IX requires equality in athletics for things such as athletic equipment, uniforms, locker rooms, practice and competition facilities, scheduling, travel and expense benefits, the quality and compensation of coaches, publicity and marketing, and access to training and medical services.

Since the passage of Title IX, female sports participation at the high school level has grown by 1,057%. The impact of this comprehensive federal law over the past five decades has provided countless opportunities for millions of student-athletes that may not have ever existed otherwise.