Archived Story

Supt. John Jarpe: Title IX turns 40

Published 10:55pm Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A recent issue of Sports Illustrated had a special section on the history and impact of Title IX, the law passed in 1972 that basically started girls’ and women’s sports on the road to an equal footing with male programs.

The writers talked about 37 words from that law that changed sports and, indeed, much of the world as we knew it:

“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.”

We raised two Jarpe girls through the ‘80s and ‘90s. Tossing a ball around the back yard or shooting hoops in the driveway were everyday events. As soon as they were old enough, pushing a lawnmower was an assigned task. When I was a kid in the ‘50s and ‘60s, you never saw a girl cut the grass, and seldom did they play a lot of ball, either.

In many ways, you can notice the changes over the decades. This past basketball season, it looked to me like the home crowds at Brandywine boys’ and girls’ games were pretty much the same, and equally supportive of our Bobcats. At Notre Dame, the women’s team often has a full crowd for home games.

Next year, Brandywine will celebrate 50 years of high school graduates.

The first Bobcats graduated in 1963. Many parts of school have changed since that time, and I think girls’ athletics is one of the biggest changes from 50 years ago.

I wonder how many of those female students from years ago would have been athletes for Brandywine?

What sports would they have chosen? This could be an interesting assignment for students sometime next year: Interview an older person, someone who graduated high school before Title IX. How would things at school have been different?  What sports would they have played? How much difference have those 37 words made?

I’d really be interested in the stories they could tell.

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