What Every Girl Should Know
Today, when girls play sports in high
school, chances are that 99 out of 100 of them don't give a thought
about what high school girls' sports were like in the past.
Even just a generation or two ago, the landscape of athletics for
girls and women was very different from what it is today. In
1972, Congress enacted a piece of legislation now referred to as
Title IX. The basic gist of the law was to ensure that
educational institutions that received federal dollars would not
discriminate between male and female teams when allocating resources
within a sports program. Up until that time, most team sports
were thought of as male activities only. Female participation
was seen in many quarters as laughable. And the level that
they played most team sports was seen as being far inferior to their
male counterparts. Societal norms and mores pressured girls
not to become involved in sports. "Tomboys" were often
Title IX changed everything. But
these changes took a long while to really take effect.
Eventually, though, we got to where we are today. A much
improved situation, although not a perfect one. Boys' & men's
sports still define a high school or college's athletic presence, so
there is still a ways to go. Let me give you an example:
If you hear someone say, "Hey, I got tickets for the next UD
basketball game!", most of us just assume that the lucky person has
tickets for the men's team. And attendance when comparing
boys'/girls' or men's/women's teams is, even today, largely skewed
in favor of the male teams. But there has been progress, and
things aren't as bad as they were just 15 or 20 years ago.
Girls/Women's Basketball, in particular,
has undergone many sweeping changes since Title IX was enacted.
Prior to the early 70s, girls teams played with bizarre rules and in
uniforms that did nothing to promote gender equality. A couple
of players could only play in one half of the court. Another
couple could only play in the remaining half of the court. One
(possibly two) girls were "rovers" and were allowed in either half
of the court. It was ridiculous! And this went on into
the photo to the left, taken from the 1973 Padua yearbook, we see
the insanity of the uniforms. Padua players were in skirts.
Their opponents were in shorts with a baseball-style top! Both
teams' uniforms having sleeves.
the photo to the right, you're looking at the 1975/1976 Padua JV
team. (The varsity team had converted over to shorts by that
time, but the JV was still in the skirts.) Things weren't
ALL bad. Number 12 is wearing ultra-cool high-top Cons and
the striped tube socks demonstrate clearly that these girls meant
Above, game action during the '70/'71
season. Padua at St. E's. Yup -- The Box!
A '75/'76 season game at Padua. In
this pic, Padua is actually in the shorts while their opponents are
in the outdated skirts.
Girls, please be aware of things that
your female athletic ancestors had to go through so that you could
have things relatively easy today. How many of you would be
willing to play basketball with crazy rules and uniforms? My
guess is not very many. If your own mother or grandmother
played back in those days, give her a big hug and a sincere "thank
you" for helping to blaze the trail so that you could have it
All photos courtesy Padua