By Chelsea Brown, Guest Contributor, Sports+Fitness Network
and Dr. Lisa Miller, Editor, Global Sport Management News
Title IX captured recent news headlines for various reasons. In the sport context, Title IX has been a vibrant factor of increased female athlete participation for many years. This large growth is due to Title IX being a relatively young law as well as overcoming barriers of sexism in sports. Title IX of the Educational Reform Act was signed into effect in 1972. The law mandated equal opportunity for women and men in educational programs in addition to activities that receive federal financial assistance (Pederson, Parks, Jerome, & Thibault, 2010). Title IX not only affected sports in the United States, but challenged sport leaders around the world to consider equality. By the Athens Olympic Games held in 2004, the number of women participating in both the Summer and Winter Olympic Games increased to a nearly equal level to that of men. This advancement represents an accomplishment for women as 26 different nations did not send any female athletes to the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games (Pederson, Parks, Jerome, & Thibault, 2010).
The London Olympics in 2012 set new records for women’s participation in events throughout the Games. A new record was set that 44% of the athletes were women hailing from all over the world to include Muslim nations of Saudi Arabia, Brunei, and Qatar. For Saudi Arabia, Brunei, and Qatar, this would be the first time they allowed women to participate in the Olympics. A total of 10,568 athletes competed in the 2012 London Olympics, with a breakdown of 5,892 men and 4,676 women (International Olympic Committee, 2012). This was the first year that the U.S. Olympic team, specifically, was made up of more women than men with 296 women and 261 men (Pederson, Parks, Jerome, & Thibault, 2010). This year also marked the first games with every National Olympic Committees (NOC) sending women to an Olympic Games.
To explore back through history, the Paris Olympic Games in 1900 saw the first participation of women in sports at just 22 out of 997 athletes. Women only competed in two sports: golf and tennis (International Olympic Committee, 2014). Female participation has steadily increased since then to the 44% at the 2012 London Olympics. This number is very high compared to the 23% during the Los Angeles Games in 1984 and the 13% in the Tokyo Games of 1964 (International Olympic Committee, 2014). The number of sports has increased as the years passed from just two sports in the 1900 Paris Olympics to 17 sports with a female competing in every sport on the Olympic program. To promote and systematize equality of women in sports, every sport proposed to the Olympics must be added to the Olympics with both a male and female component (International Olympic Committee, 2014). The 2016 Rio Olympics offers the opportunity to celebrate a successful systematic approach to accomplishing improved social change.
International Olympic Committee (2012). London 2012 Facts & Figures. Update – November 2012. Retrieved on October 25, 2015.
International Olympic Committee (2014). Women in the Olympic Movement. Update – May 2014. Retrieved on October 25, 2015.
Pederson, P., Parks, J., Jerome, Q., & Thibault, L. (2010). Contemporary Sport Management, Fifth Edition. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.