Talking Title IX

Reflecting on a semester of looking at gender equality in athletic programs

More stories from Nicole Bellford

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As the semester comes to a close, it is time to bid farewell to my position here at the Spectator as the Sports Editor, as well as wrap up what has become one of my favorite columns to write. I have enjoyed every moment of Talking Title IX both exposing the legal enactment’s fatal flaws and highlighting its efforts to generate gender equality among federally funded athletic programs.

Throughout my exploration of Title IX, I discovered qualities regarding the document that I already knew as well as factors I had never heard of. In addition, it shocked me to hear how many people in both the millennial and generation “z” demographic lacked knowledge of Title IX whatsoever. Although the document made its debut nearly 50 years ago, it continues to impact modern society in a number of ways.

It makes me smile to think that even one click or glance at my column this past semester may have opened someone’s eyes to the federal resources in place intended to promote athletic equality, as well as what we as a community can do to fight for further justice.

While perhaps not all teens or young adults have dealt with Title IX compliance issues at their high school like I did just 5 years back, the legal enactment has rocked media headlines over the course of the past decade, from the sexual assault epidemic on college campuses to transgender discrimination at the highschool level.

Reading current statistics about Title IX is bittersweet at best. We can focus all we want on the progress that female athletes have made since the document’s debut, but it doesn’t change the setbacks we continue to face. Girls continue to receive less opportunities than boys to play high school sports. Women receive significantly less scholarship funding than men at the collegiate level. At the national level, even female olympians have suffered repeated instances of sexual misconduct from a male doctor.  

Overall, if there is one critical learning point I have taken away from my experience writing this column over the course of the semester, it is the brutal realities of a nation continuing to drown itself in patriarchy. Sexism is alive and all too well. Misogyny wreaks havoc on the justice system, especially in the realm of athletics. And if we as a society remain complacent, nothing is going to change. We can’t accept status quo any longer. The sooner we stand hand in hand, on the same team, the sooner we will reach genuine equality.

Although my time as a student-athlete is coming to a close, I am confident I will continue to be passionate about this topic. I will never stop fighting for athletic equality, whether that be through writing this column or making my voice heard at a peaceful protest.

Regardless of realm, equality is a battle that deserves to be fought. It truly doesn’t matter which way you look at it. It’s not a debate. Equality is, and always will be, common sense.