There’s no crying…there’s no crying in baseball!”Serving as the manager of the Rockford Peaches, a professional baseballteam, Jimmy Dugan doesn’t tolerate crying from any of his players. Baseball of course being such a masculine sport, a game over flowing withtestosterone, jock-itch, and 5 o’clock shadows….right? Not when yourshortstop is wearing lipstick and the right fielder has a “c-cup!” Duringthe Second World War women took the jobs of men in professional baseballwhile the games best players fought over seas. A League of Their Own,directed by Penny Marshall, depicts the story of a pioneer breakthrough forwomen’s rights in sports when gender roles are reversed.
World War II forced America to make adjustments in even the country’spast time, Professional Baseball. Owners of professional teams struggledto establish interest and acceptance for women in a man’s game. With hardword and dedication the league became not only a success but theinauguration for an equal rights movement in women’s athletics. ThirtyThree years later this battle continued triumphantly. Title IX wasestablished through the National College Athletic Association in 1972.
This bi-law created opportunities for female athletes by dividing allathletic scholarships evenly between male and female teams. Controversycontinues to exist because male sports usually bring in the majority ofincome at college and universities nation wide. How successful willschools be able to generate interest and income with fewer scholarshipfunded educations to offer potential male athletes?The University of Connecticut couldn’t be happier with the resultsTitle IX has helped earn them. In the span of 25 years, UConn hasestablished the premiere collegiate women’s basketball program. Afterwinning the 2003 national championship Coach Geno Ariemma stated, “twentyyears ago this school couldn’t even afford me a paid assistant, now myseniors are signing professional contracts and there offering me millionsof dollars to do what I continue to love!” The growth of this program hasset a standard for all female athletics. Connecticut’s citizens evenranked UConn women’s basketball the number one most popular team in thestate in 2001(www.ctpost.com). Following in a close second with 12,000fewer votes was the UConn men’s basketball team.
Women’s basketball eventually created such an immense fan base that inJune of 1997 the Women’s National Basketball Association began. SherrylSwoops became the first women’s professional basketball player when shesigned on October 23, 1996. Her $30,000 playing contract for the HoustonComets doesn’t remotely compare to the lucrative 1.2 million she earned inendorsements just last year. Like Title IX, the WNBA has allowed women theopportunity to compete at a higher level of competition than ever before. The value of female athletes has increased so significantly that some earnmore than even professional male athletes playing the same sport.
What about those women that don’t play for money, but rather for thelove of the game? During the early 1900’s women were not offered theopportunity to earn a higher education. Most raised children and worked ashomemakers. Some of the all time best female athletes could have beenoverlooked due to the lack of opportunity given for them to exhibit theirtalents. Is it possible that Sally “the riveter” might have had abeautiful jump shot or even a great curveball? Title IX helped allow morewomen the opportunity to earn a college education at no cost. The bulk ofthem will go on to become a professional in something other than sports. Without scholarship educations the potential of these females could havebeen wasted. Lauren Redler, a lacrosse player for Georgetown University, graduatedhigh school with dreams and admirations of becoming an Orthopaedic Surgeon.
Her grades and SATs were very similar to other top admissions candidatesbut her athletic ability set her beyond all. Lauren’s athleticism helpedher earn admission to Georgetown while also aiding in tuition cost with thescholarship awarded. Because of the developments made in collegiate genderequity rights brilliant female minds will be put to use adequately in thefuture. These opportunities can be directly attributed to the Title XIruling that provides females with scholarships that normally were given tomales. Women’s roles have changed radically since World War II. The fightfor equality has allowed women to hold positions that were formally labeledas male dominant. Sports eventually offered women the chance to earn adegree, subsequently furthering the success they will have in theprofessional world. Women are now doctors, managers, and police officers. Gender Equity rights and Title XI remain to be controversial issues buthave helped pave the way for women athletically and professionally.