NFHS Content Calendar
NFHS Title IX Yearlong Celebration Articles
The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) is hosting a yearlong celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Title IX. The week of April 18-23, the NFHS will be featuring some of Maryland’s Trailblazers and moments of magnitude.
Among the featured Marylanders will be:
Rockville’s Helen Maroulis, who became the first U.S. woman to capture an Olympic wrestling gold medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics;
Brenda Gelston, who spearheaded the Baltimore Board of Women’s Sports Officials that had dramatic effects on female participation and female officials for women’s sports;
Trailblazer and Western High School alum Dana Johnson, who played women’s college basketball for Pat Summitt at the University of Tennessee, only to return home as a coach and athletic director and became the President of the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association and President of the Maryland State Athletic Directors Association; and,
Trailblazer Mildred Murray, whose name is engraved into numerous documents supporting greater equity for female participants well before Title IX was enacted. Murray’s 43 year career in public education is forever enshrined into the numerous MPSSAA state championships she advocated, developed, administered, and passed on to the next generation of female administrators.
The NFHS celebrated its 100th anniversary two years ago, and among all the events that have occurred since 1920, perhaps nothing had a more positive impact on high school sports than the passage of Title IX of the Educational Amendments in 1972.
Ironically, the landmark legislation signed by President Richard Nixon on June 23, 1972, did not specifically mention high school athletics:
“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 educational program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
While Title IX may not have been targeted to improving the opportunities for girls to participate in high school sports, the numbers indicate that this historic legislation had everything to do with opening the floodgates. Although sports had been a part of high schools for more than 50 years in 1972, those opportunities overwhelmingly were limited to boys.
In an article in High School Today magazine in 2012, Dorothy McIntyre, former assistant executive director of the Minnesota State High School League and one of the leaders of girls athletics at the state level in the early 1970s, summarized the challenges prior to the passage of Title IX:
“That attitude (that girls don’t play sports) germinated in the 1920s and 1930s when a national attitude swept the country that the lives of girls and women would be better – and more healthy – if they played for fun and not with the pressure of winning, intense coaching and excited crowds . . . Girls sat on the sidelines and watched. The Girls Athletic Association and its recreational activities were deemed to be ‘sufficient’ for girls, or perhaps they could be cheerleaders for the boys teams.”
Opportunity was the key word. After the passage of Title IX, the rapid rise in girls participation in education-based athletics was remarkable. In the last year prior to the passage of Title IX, there were fewer than 300,000 girls who participated in high school sports, or about one in every 27 girls who attended school. In two years, that figure jumped to 1,300,169, and by the 1977-78 school year, girls participation exceeded 2 million – a remarkable 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.
Understanding Title IX NFHSLearn Course
NFHS Centennial Video: Title IX Women