As I listened to an NPR audio account of the Olympic medals won by our US of A (United States of America); and the winning predominated by women athletes, a smile came to my face.
50 years ago we were trendsetters. I refer to my team mates who played Women’s Professional Football for the Toledo Troopers. In 1972, we were ‘pioneers’ who some proclaimed looked more like a “motley crew”.
We were the women who played football according to NFL rules. Some are no longer with us. They have died.
Those of us who are continuing to thrive agreed to the production of a documentary. We said ‘yes’ to telling our stories. Personally, remembering how we opened doors that were locked shut to women in favor of young men, allows me a quiet acceptance of this culture within which I have been raised.
I’m glad that I took the bait to shed the shackles of the “girls don’t do that” social structure. And, the sexual advances of the men who seek to take control, and dominate the assertive girls and women who succeed.
I learned then, in the early 70’s that, as a woman, I would have to be a little or a lot better in order to succeed in the man’s worlds of sports, law, and business.
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (amendments to the Civil Rights Act of 1964) was enacted by Congress and signed into law by President Richard Nixon.
After many years of political wrangling, debating, and litigating, Title IX was enforced in high schools and colleges in 1978.
We were oblivious and just wanted to play football. The Toledo Troopers played from 1971 to 1978, and are proclaimed as the ‘winningest team in history’. The documentary will chronicle this eventful past. It’ll be released in September, 2021.
This year, after 17 days of competition at the Tokyo Olympics the United States finished with the most medals won overall. Team USA triumphed with 113 medals. U.S. women won 66 medals, which is more than half of the U.S. Olympic team.
Since the 70’s opportunities for girls and women in athletics have increased exponentially. In 1971, when we, the Toledo Troopers, commenced playing football, fewer than 300,000 girls participated in high school athletics. Nowadays, more than 3.2 million are high school athletes. Women participation in College athletics has also risen exponentially.
The benefits of increased participation affects not just female athletes but society as a whole.
Sports Participation Research (Women & Girls):
- less likely to get pregnant or take drugs than those who don’t play sports in high school, and
- more likely to graduate and go on to college, and
- have lower risk of developing illnesses such as obesity, heart disease, osteoporosis, and breast cancer, and
- 82% of female business executives played sports, and
- A majority claim that the lessons of teamwork, leadership, and confidence learned on the playing field contributed to their success.
Yea, Team USA.