NORMAN — Editor, The Transcript:
At last, Oklahomans have something to cheer about. The University of Oklahoma women have brought home the Women’s Softball World Championship.
The four senior women — Ricketts, Gascoigne, Shults and Turang — and the rest of the team have proven to be stars. Girls playing softball all over the state are dreaming of being champions. It hasn’t always been that way.
Women’s opportunities for competitive physical activity were limited in America until 1972 when federal legislation, the Title IX Amendment to the Education Act, became law. It required American society to recognize a woman’s right to participate in athletics and education on a plane equal to that of men.
Prior to 1870, activities for women were recreational rather than competitive in nature. They were informal, ruleless; they emphasized physical activity rather than competition. Later, college sports for women were largely unrecognized because competition was within a college between students (intramural) rather than between colleges (extramural).
After Title IX, women and girls have become much more involved in sports. College women’s athletic participation has increased from 15 percent in 1972 to 43 percent in 2001. High school girl’s athletic participation increased from 295,000 in 1972 to 2.8 million in 2003, an increase of more than 840 percent.
Today, the NCAA sponsors 40 women’s championships. The five most frequently offered college sports for women are basketball, volleyball, soccer, cross country and softball.
June 23 is the 41st anniversary of Title IX legislation. Congratulations to the OU women, and “you go, girl” for all those other women and girls out there.
CATHY BUCHWALD and SANDY BAHAN
Co-chairs of the League of Women Voters of Norman