It was over before you knew it. For three weeks, the 2016 Olympics from Rio centered our world around sports.
Not surprisingly, the USA dominated the Olympics and won more gold medals than any other country. That’s happened many times before.
But what may be surprising, is that, within Team USA, it was the women who dominated. U.S. women took home 27 gold medals of Team USA’s total of 46.
Let me repeat that: women took home the majority of gold medals for Team USA. In fact, U.S. Women got more medals overall than the American men.
The strong showing by Team USA women happened for many reasons.
There are the obvious reasons such as training, hard work, resources, dedication. And then the not so obvious reason–Title IX.
Yes, sportsfans, it’s true: The big winner of the 2016 Olympics is Richard Nixon. In 1972, President Richard Nixon signed the federal law known as Title IX, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex. According to the Justice Department, Title IX applies “to all aspects of federal funded education programs or activities.”
Title IX is better known as the law that championed women’s sports. Or, the law that killed men’s college wrestling, depending upon your point of view. Here in Madison, many argue that the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s sports took a hit from Title IX when the campus ended its men’s collegiate baseball program in the mid-1990s.
Title IX is more than 40 years old, and despite some misapplications of law, it works. Before Title IX, high school female athletes were stuck with cheerleading and few other sports options. Women college athletes received a measly two percent of overall athletic budgets.
More girls participate in sports than ever. Over the past forty-four years, investments into women’s and girls sports has gone up. And these investments are paying off.
Exhibit A: the women of Team USA, the majority of whom were not even born when the law was passed in 1972. The vast majority of these women participated in university-funded sports.
American women will continue to dominate as long as women in other countries are discriminated against.
All to say, Women are worth investing in, no matter which country it is. And the effects of social change can take longer than we’d like. Invest now. Sow now. Reap later.