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Getting in the Game

Getting in the Game: Title IX and the Women's Sports Revolution

Deborah L. Brake
Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    Getting in the Game
    Book Description:

    Title IX, a landmark federal statute enacted in 1972 to prohibit sex discrimination in education, has worked its way into American culture as few other laws have. It is an iconic law, the subject of web blogs and T-shirt slogans, and is widely credited with opening the doors to the massive numbers of girls and women now participating in competitive sports. Yet few people fully understand the law's requirements, or the extent to which it has succeeded in challenging the gender norms that have circumscribed women's opportunities as athletes and their place in society more generally.In this first legal analysis of Title IX, Deborah L. Brake assesses the statute's successes and failures. While the statute has created tremendous gains for female athletes, not only raising the visibility and cultural acceptance of women in sports, but also creating social bonds for women, positive body images, and leadership roles, the disparities in funding between men's and women's sports have remained remarkably resilient. At the same time, female athletes continue to receive less prestige and support than their male counterparts, which in turn filters into the arena of professional sports. Brake provides a richer understanding and appreciation of what Title IX has accomplished, while taking a critical look at the places where the law has fallen short. A unique contribution to the literature on Title IX, Getting in the Game fully explores the theory, policy choices, successes, and limitations of this historic law.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-8979-7
    Subjects: Law

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction: The Feminism of Title IX
    (pp. 1-14)

    Title IX. Those two words were blazoned on the bare backs of the members of the Yale University women’s crew team as they stood in the office of the athletic director in 1976. The women standing in that office had had enough. Although Title IX—a federal law banning sex discrimination in federally funded education programs—had been enacted four years earlier, it had yet to make a real difference in their lives. They endured appalling and humiliating conditions for the privilege of rowing for Yale, including restricted access to facilities, meager funding, and grossly unequal treatment compared to the...

  5. 1 Separate Is Equal?
    (pp. 15-40)

    The dominant principle in modern antidiscrimination law is that all persons should be treated as individuals, without reference to their status as members of a social group. In American law, this translates into a principle of color blindness when we’re speaking about racial equality and gender blindness when the focus is on discrimination against women. Civil rights laws on workplace equality, for example, require employers to use gender-neutral hiring criteria, with few exceptions. Once Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 went into effect, employers could no longer advertise positions for “women’s jobs” or “men’s jobs.” Instead, the...

  6. 2 Integration Rights: Girls Playing with Boys and Boys Playing with Girls
    (pp. 41-66)

    In 1996, Courtney Barnett and Melony Monahan were high school juniors who shared a common interest. While most girls their age gravitated to sports like basketball, softball, volleyball, and track, Courtney and Melony competed on the varsity wrestling team. But not everyone shared their enthusiasm. In November 1996, the girls were refused permission to participate in mixed-gender matches at the North Texas Open wrestling tournament, which were forbidden by the Texas Interscholastic Wrestling Association. With their parents’ help, the girls sued under Title IX and the equal protection clause, seeking the right to compete against boys. Although they lost under...

  7. 3 The Three-Part Test and the Opportunity to Play
    (pp. 67-94)

    Talk to female athletes today and you will find little awareness of the chasm in sports opportunities that divides this generation from that of their mothers. Today’s sports-loving girls can hardly fathom the world of their predecessors, in which women had few or no choices to play competitive sports. Even girls’ basketball, the one sport typically offered to high school girls in the pre–Title IX era, was then played half-court and with more players to minimize running, making it a game that bears little resemblance to today’s fast-paced women’s game.

    The biggest Title IX success story in the past...

  8. 4 Complicating Equal Participation: What Counts as a Sport, Which Sports Should Women Play, and Which Women Should Play Them?
    (pp. 95-118)

    This chapter considers three questions that have arisen in applying the three-part test and assessing its impact. First, what counts as a sport for Title IX purposes? In particular, should cheerleading count in adding up the numbers of female sports opportunities? Second, once we figure out which sports count, are some sports more worthy contenders for addition to the women’s program than others? Does (or should) Title IX take a position on which sports to press for in the push to expand women’s opportunities? In particular, should the law do more to add opportunities for women in contact sports? Finally,...

  9. 5 Cutting Men’s Opportunities to Help Women? Title IX and Leveling Down
    (pp. 119-142)

    Rarely if ever does passing a law launch a neat and linear path to progressive social change, and Title IX is no exception. Lurking within the dominant theme of growth in women’s sports are some dissonant notes. Although the three-part test remains a successful measure of compliance all things considered, it has encountered some bumps in the road while charting a course toward equality.

    The elephant in the room with Title IX is the effect it has—or is perceived to have—on men’s sports. A critical but often unexamined question in this debate is whether women really benefit from...

  10. 6 Treatment as an Equal
    (pp. 143-168)

    When Elizabeth Choike and her teammates sued Slippery Rock University for cutting their teams, saving their sports was not their only concern. They also challenged SRU for discriminating against female athletes in the provision of facilities, equipment, coaching, and scheduling for women’s sports. Some of the disparities the lawsuit identified were stark. Women’s softball had it especially rough. The team played on a field far from campus with fencing that often fell down in a strong wind, a generator that could not always power the scoreboard for a full game, dilapidated seating in old bleachers, a garbled and incoherent sound...

  11. 7 The Dilemma of Difference and the “Problem” of Pregnancy
    (pp. 169-190)

    Until recently, devoting a chapter in a book about Title IX and sports to the topic of pregnancy would be unexpected, to say the least.¹ Sports and pregnancy are two topics that have not often appeared in the same sentence. And yet, Title IX’s treatment of pregnancy reveals much about the law’s approach to sex equality and the difficulties of and possibilities for restructuring the institution of sport to suit women’s needs.

    The issues facing athletes who become pregnant have long been neglected in Title IX discourse, although pregnancy has been a focal point in other areas of sex equality...

  12. 8 Beyond Equal Access: Retaliation, Coaching, and Sexual Harassment
    (pp. 191-216)

    Beyond access to sports and the equal treatment of male and female athletes, Title IX speaks to a number of other issues that are central to its gender equality goals. This chapter addresses three such issues. The first is protecting people who are bold enough to speak out about discrimination. Strong protection from retaliation is crucial because complainants are often pegged as “troublemakers” and pay a high price for their principles. A recent Supreme Court victory holds promise for providing the protection people need to stand up for the rights of female athletes. However, important questions remain about the scope...

  13. Conclusion
    (pp. 217-230)

    Title IX is at the center of an ongoing struggle over the place of women in sports and the meaning of gender more broadly. Now, in the fourth decade after the law’s enactment, it is still too soon to say whether Title IX will succeed in securing full sex equality in sports. This concluding chapter considers three final themes: the backlash against Title IX, prospects for further progress in the future, and some final thoughts on Title IX’s successes and limitations as a “feminist” law.

    Any law that challenges traditional gender norms and opens up opportunities for women is likely...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 231-274)
  15. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 275-276)
  16. Index
    (pp. 277-286)
  17. About the Author
    (pp. 287-287)