Thursday was the 50th anniversary of the enactment of Title IX, a federal civil rights law that states, “No person in the United States shall, because of sex, be excluded from participation, denied benefits or be subject to discrimination in connection with any educational program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. »
When my boss told me to locate this story earlier this week, I spent hours racking my brain looking for an angle, you know who I’m going to tell? Who do I know who knows about this?
Then, as I was driving aimlessly through the city, I saw it – Margo Jonker Stadium – and wallah it was. I then knew the two people I needed to contact to locate this story on the spot, both living legends and Hall of Famers and personal friends dating back over 25 years.
So I called former CMU softball coach Margo Jonker and after that I called Hall of Famer Marcy Weston to discuss the 50th anniversary of Title IX and its importance, its significance and significance.
It wasn’t long before they both agreed that Title IX had done a lot of good things for a lot of good people over the years, but it left its most lasting impression on the world of preparation and performance. college and professional athletics.
The numbers speak for it too.
In 1971, about 300,000 women played high school sports in the United States, while about 3.5 million play preparatory sports today. At the college level, about 15% of student-athletes were women in 1971, compared to 44% today. Those numbers were released in an AP report earlier this week.
In addition, in 1982, the number of women participating was 26.4% in Division 1, compared to 47.1% today, according to “The State of Woman in College Sports” report published Thursday by The Associated Press.
Statistically speaking and in terms of numbers, Title IX actually opened the door to equal opportunity for women in athletics and that’s the way it should be because no one is better than anyone and everyone deserves equal opportunity. You would be doing your own imagination a disservice by thinking otherwise.
The reason I chose to chat with Jonker and Weston was multiple. First, both were outstanding student-athletes at the time, as Weston was a four-sport star at Dayton and Jonker was a softball star at Grand Valley State. Weston competed on the collegiate stage before Title IX was enacted, but began her coaching and administrative career at CMU in 1972 before retiring as a high-level administrator in 2015. Weston was there when Title IX was enacted and saw how it transformed women’s sport. first hand since its inception.
Jonker graduated from Holland West Ottawa in 1972, then played softball at Grand Valley State for four years before Weston hired her as an assistant volleyball coach in the late 1970s. Jonker to become the softball coach in 1980 and she went on to become one of the most successful female softball coaches in the history of the sport.
Jonker also knows the importance of Title IX.
“It was a huge factor in encouraging girls and women to play sports,” said Jonker, whose 1,268 career wins at CMU rank 13th all-time among softball coaches in the Division. I. “I played ball in high school before Title IX and the number of sports (offered) was very limited. Title IX brought it to the fore.
Walking through Margo Jonker Stadium today, one cannot help but be impressed as it is one of the best softball stadiums in the state. What was once a diamond with a rickety old fence in the middle of a field has been transformed into a shining softball sanctuary and Title IX has helped pave the way.
Jonker literally built his program from the ground up, proving and showing what can be done. As a CMU softball beat writer for 15 years, she even opened the door for me, allowing me to travel with her to UCLA, Stanford, San Diego State, Chicago, and countless trips to Ann Arbor.
Weston has seen Title IX from both a coaching and administrative perspective, as she coached field hockey at CMU for two years and coached volleyball for more than a decade. . She replaced legendary administrator Fran Koenig in the late ’80s and remained CMU’s senior female administrator from 1989 to 2015.
Weston agreed that Title IX was good for the university and women’s sports in general, although it took a few years before CMU had a full scholarship allocation for female student-athletes (1979) . Weston was also very careful with his words, which was expected as the College Athletics Hall of Fame is named after him.
Ultimately, Jonker and Weston were there when Title IX was enacted and both were there to see it flourish in the 1980s, 90s and 2000s.
When asked the toughest question, Title IX leveled the playing field and leveled the playing field, the two thought for a second before answering. Weston gave a polite response one would expect from a former administrator while Jonker spoke his truth.
“It’s been the law for 50 years, but it’s frustrating that it’s not enforced,” said Jonker, who was also an assistant coach for the gold medal-winning USA softball team in 2000. “I don’t I have no complaints personally, I just wish student-athletes had more equality. (The football team) eats steak and lobster and we eat sandwiches.
Jonker’s point also hits the proverbial nail on the head in that it’s not even, it’s more of a saying.
In 2020, men’s varsity sports received two to three times more allocated resources than women’s sports. Football is obviously the most expensive and skews things financially, so it’s worth noting.
But think about it too. In 1972, women’s college teams were coached mostly by women, 90% of the time. In 2020, that number was 41%.
Jonker also raised another important point about this, media coverage or lack thereof for collegiate women’s sports.
As someone who has been in the newspaper business for over 25 years and has extensively covered WUC women’s basketball, gymnastics, softball and wrestling, I never realized how little coverage that these sports receive at the national level. I stay pretty much immersed in what I’m doing and don’t look outside the box too often.
But she is right.
If you watch ESPN, over 90% of its talking points are based on the NFL, NBA, NHL, or MLB. They also sprinkle in some PGA, Nascar and MLS, but really don’t focus too much on women’s sports.
The same goes for the Associated Press, the entity from which newspapers and radio draw daily. Looking at the AP budget every day, it’s at least 75% geared toward men’s sports, with most of the aforementioned items front and center.
So, structurally, the media hasn’t done a very good job of promoting women’s sports to the masses. And if you are not seen, you will not be heard.
The only place the media also plays it is in your hyper-local, small-town publications.
In conclusion, Title IX has been a good thing for women and women’s sports, but there is still a lot of work to be done to make it equal.