Star-Bulletin Sports


Women had very few
opportunities before statute

The year before Title IX was passed,
Hawaii had 4 girls state tournaments

By Cindy Luis

In the decades before Title IX was passed, the female athlete was considered an aberration.

Physical education was fine ... up to a limit. Strenuous exercise was discouraged because it might affect a woman's reproductive system.

The pioneers in women's sports -- the Babe Didricksons, the Wilma Rudolphs, the Billie Jean Kings -- were admired not just for their skill, but also their bravery in fighting the old-boys network in athletics. As other women in male-dominated professions have learned, a woman has to be twice as good to be considered half as good as a man.

Societal pressure was heavy to choose either a career or marriage, a college education or marriage. A number of factors limited women's choices during their youth, including limited participation in athletics.

In Hawaii, outdoor living was a given with recreation opportunities aplenty. Cultural sports such as surfing and canoe paddling were acceptable, but organized school sports weren't available for the most part.

In 1971, the year prior to the passage of Title IX, girls in Hawaii had four state tournaments: Tennis and swimming both started in 1958, track in 1967 and volleyball in 1969. (Boys had nine state tournaments).

Some island women were lucky. Even before Title IX was passed, they found a sport, or a sport found them. They succeeded at the AAU level in track, on the fledgling LPGA tour and in the Olympics.

But ask women who are age 48 and older about their athletic opportunities and the majority will say they had none. When they saw the few female sports stars of their day, they thought, "I could never do that."

The pity was they never were given a chance to find out if they could.


>> The average college budgeted less than $1 a year per woman student on sports.

>> Women received about 1 percent of the total intercollegiate athletic budget.

>> There were no athletic scholarships for women.

>> Women made up only 15 percent of the participants in intercollegiate athletics.

>> At the University of Kansas, women athletes had to drive 24 straight hours to participate in track meets and sleep on wrestling mats. Male athletes traveled at university expense, put up overnight in hotels.

>> At the University of Nebraska, the budget for male sports programs was $4.1 million. For women, it was $60,000.

>> At Arizona State, women athletes had to conduct candy sales and raffles to get the money to participate in national competitions; they had to travel to meets in their own cars and pay for their own mileage. Male athletes flew in airplanes at university expense. Men received $15 a day expense, women received $5.

>> At Waco, Texas, the public school system spent $250,000 a year on athletic programs for boys, but only $970 on girls athletics. Of $1 million in athletic facilities and equipment, only tennis balls could be used by girls on a regular basis.

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