Mason Celebrates Girls and Women in Sports, 35th Anniversary of Title IX

Posted: January 30, 2008 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Jennifer Halpin

Mason will celebrate National Girls and Women in Sports Day (NGWSD) with events next week on the Fairfax and Prince William Campuses. NGWSD is celebrated in all 50 states with community-based events honoring the achievements and encouraging participation of girls and women in sports.

NGWSD began in 1987 as a day to remember Olympic volleyball player Flo Hyman for her athletic achievements and her work to assure equality for women’s sports. Hyman died of Marfan’s Syndrome in 1986 while competing in a tournament in Japan.

Since that time, NGWSD has evolved into a day to acknowledge the past and recognize current sports achievements, the positive influence of sports participation and the continuing struggle for equality and access for women in sports.

Prior to the enactment of Title IX legislation in 1972, only one in 27 girls played high school sports, and there were virtually no college scholarships for female athletes. In short, “Prior to Title IX, the athletic opportunities girls and women had consisted of watching boys and men play sports,” says Sue Collins, Mason’s senior associate athletic director for student services.

Title IX is a federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in any educational program or activity at any educational institution that receives federal funds. Athletics, drama, band and other extracurricular student activities are considered to be educational programs under this law.

Today, one in 2.5 high school girls plays varsity sports, and college participation has more than tripled.

“The meteoric rise in participation opportunities and coaching opportunities for girls and women is the biggest change I’ve seen since Title IX was enacted,” says Collins, who, as head women’s volleyball coach at the Ohio State University in 1976, awarded one of her players the first athletic scholarship for a female athlete at the university.

“Today the opportunities are the same for men and women because of the fabulous women out there who came before us,” says Collins. “We’ve also been fortunate to have a lot of good men at Mason support the women’s athletic program, so our current student athletes have no idea what it was like prior to Title IX.”

The NGSWD events, which are free and open to the Mason community and public, follow.

  • The hospitality suite on the Patriot Center’s first level will be the setting for a reception with Mason women’s basketball coaches and players prior to the game vs. VCU on Sunday, Feb. 3. Collins will also give an overview of Title IX and the history of women’s sports at Mason. The event is targeted to young girls and women athletes; there will be giveaways for participants, as well as refreshments. The reception begins at 1 p.m., and the game follows at 2 p.m.

  • The Freedom Aquatic and Fitness Center at the Prince William Campus will host a reception on Wednesday, Feb. 6, at 1 p.m. to commemorate Mason and community athletes. Collins will repeat her presentation on Title IX and women’s sports at Mason. The reception will be followed by an exhibition basketball game by NOVA United Senior Women’s Basketball Association.

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