March is Women’s History Month. So I thought we should take a look at some important dates in American women’s sports history.
June 23, 1972: That’s the date Title IX (that’s “9” in Roman numerals) of the Education Amendments of 1972 became law.
What’s Title IX? That’s the law that requires schools that receive money from the federal government to give their female students opportunities equal to those of their male students.
The law has had a huge effect on girls and women who play sports. In 1972, before Title IX was passed, only 295,000 girls competed in high school sports. During the 2013-2014 school year, 3,267,664 girls played high school sports, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations. That’s a big difference.
September 20, 1973: Years ago, many men did not think female athletes were as good as male athletes. Bobby Riggs, a 55-year-old former Wimbledon champion, was one. In 1973, Riggs challenged Billie Jean King, a top-rated female tennis player, to a match. Riggs claimed even an older male player could beat a top female pro.
King refused, so Riggs played Margaret Court, another champion female player. Riggs beat a nervous Court easily. So King accepted Riggs’s challenge. She did not want people thinking that female tennis players were not even as good as a senior men’s player.
The match was an international sensation. Everyone was interested in this sports battle between the men and the women. More than 30,000 fans saw the match at the Houston Astrodome in Texas while an estimated 90 million watched on television around the world.
This time, the woman won. King overpowered Riggs and gave a big boost to female athletes and women’s sports.
July 10, 1999: During the summer of 1999, it was cool to be a women’s soccer fan. The U.S. World Cup team, led by such stars as Mia Hamm, Michelle Akers and Brandi Chastain, had raced through the early matches, beating Denmark, Nigeria and North Korea by a combined score of 13-1.
Things got tougher in the knockout rounds. Still, the United States came back to beat Germany, 3-2, and to slip by Brazil, 2-0.
Everyone wanted to see the finals. Along with then-President Bill Clinton, more than 90,000 flag-waving fans jammed the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. Another 40 million watched the game on television.
They saw a thriller. The United States won on penalty kicks, with Chastain blasting home the winner. But what they really saw was a piece of women’s sports history.
Bowen writes the sports opinion column for KidsPost. He is the author of 21 sports books for kids.
The American soccer team mobs goalie Briana Scurry (in blue) after winning the Women’s World Cup in 1999. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post) March is Women’s History Month. So I thought we should take a look at some important dates in American women’s sports history. June 23, 1972: That’s the […]