Women In The Olympics

5 min read

Check out this fantastic article we have sourced from USAtoday.com which highlights why Title IX has opened the floodgates for talented female athletes in America to compete on an equal level to the men in the 2012 Olympics.

"Nearly all the 205 nations marching into Friday's opening ceremony will have at least one woman competing. It required a lot of arm-twisting for the ultimate holdout, Saudi Arabia, to relent, but even the world's most male-chauvinistic Olympic nation has fallen in line, sending two women -- a judo athlete and an 800-meter runner -- to compete in London.

Perhaps it was the peer pressure from Brunei and Qatar.

Those traditional old boys' clubs caved this time, too, giving International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge a clear victory in what has been an extremely uneven journey to some semblance of gender equity at an event that once was as discriminatory as Augusta National Golf Club.

To be fair, we're talking about a long time ago, 1896 to be exact, when Baron Pierre de Coubertin founded the modern Olympics, forbidding women because, as he reasoned, it would be "impractical, uninteresting, unaesthetic and incorrect."

Obviously the baron never met Hope Solo, Tonya Harding or Flo-Jo.

The USA has led the way in this push for equality, and it's all because of Title IX, the 40-year-old law that opened the athletic floodgates for girls and women to play sports in America and in the process become the envy of the rest of the Western world.

Consider this: If there were no Title IX, there would be no women's national soccer team, nor college scholarships for the female stars of the U.S. Olympic swimming and track and field teams, among many others. We might never have heard of Abby Wambach, Natalie Coughlin or Allyson Felix.

Which leads us to another first: The 2012 U.S. Olympic team is composed of 529 athletes, 261 men and 268 women. Never before has America sent more women than men to an Olympic Games. And they are being led by another woman, chef de mission Teresa Edwards, a five-time Olympic medalist in basketball.

To be sure, had the U.S. men's soccer team qualified for the Olympics, that would have tipped the scales the other way. And many of the top American Olympic stars are male -- Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, Kobe Bryant. But if this American squad develops a nickname, odds are it will be something along the lines of "Team Title IX," which sounds just about right to some of the nation's best female Olympians.

"I think it's a big deal, to come so far," two-time Olympic beach volleyball gold medalist Kerri Walsh, who was a scholarship indoor volleyball player at Stanford, said Wednesday. "I don't even know how many women would have been on the 1972 Olympic team, when Title IX was just starting. And now, to think of this. But I think we celebrate the growth and then we stop comparing."

Swimmer Rebecca Soni, who is favored to win as many as three gold medals in these Games, also is a product of Title IX as a scholarship athlete at Southern California.

"It's just a beautiful thing," she said of the number of American women competing in London. "It's really wonderful to see that women athletes are celebrated just as much as men. I feel that, as a woman athlete, we're recognized equally. To have more women than men on the team is really exciting. Having had Title IX all these years changes the sport of swimming. We have our Olympic swimmers being college swimmers and now (competing) even further (out of college) because of all the opportunities that they were given in college."

That doesn't mean U.S. women win every time they leave the Olympic locker room. Far from it. The American soccer team fell behind France 2-0 early in their opening Olympic match Wednesday before storming back to win 4-2.

Long ago, the U.S. women realized that sometimes when they lose, women's sports worldwide wins. At the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Brandi Chastain, the hero of the 1999 World Cup for the Americans, came out of the locker room proudly wearing her silver medal after a final loss to Norway. Asked why she appeared so content, Chastain said although she obviously wasn't pleased that her team had lost, it proved an important point: If the USA couldn't win every competition, women's soccer around the world was advancing."

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