The U.S. Women’s National team won its second consecutive Women’s World Cup on Sunday, further solidifying its dominance in international soccer. But the team’s greatness was made possible decades before the current team’s players were even born.
This is thanks in large part to Title IX, the provision to the Education Amendments Act of 1972 that made it illegal for federally funded schools, colleges and universities to discriminate by sex. At that time, there were almost not athletic programs for female students, The Guardian reported.
Title IX, however, encouraged girls to play sports at young ages and gave them a platform from which they could go to college and play professionally. The provision not only disallowed schools from discriminating against girls, it also mandated that those institutions of higher learning also funded their women’s sports programs to make them competitive and to provide scholarships for female athletes.
“Suddenly, not only were energetic, athletic girls given the same opportunities to play as the boys were, but they also had the opportunity for their sporting talent to fund their educations through scholarships,” The Guardian‘s Moira Donegan wrote.
When TitleIX passed, there were only 700 girls playing soccer in American high schools — that number shot up 121,722 girls in 1991, the year of the first Women’s World Cup. Since then, it’s more than doubled to 390,482 young female soccer players.
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