Last weekend marked the 35th anniversary of Title IX, the legislation credited with increasing gender equity in sports. According to the Women���s Sports Foundation, since its enactment in 1972, female athletic participation has increased by a staggering 904 percent in high school and by 456 percent in college.
As someone who has benefited from Title IX, softball star Jennie Finch is quick to share her appreciation for those women that came before her. "I'm truly grateful for people who have paved the way, and have fought the fight," Finch said in the Daily Freeman. "I'm happy they broke down barriers to give women like myself the opportunity to be successful athletes and make a living playing a sport that I love."
I���m no softball star, but I am also thankful for the positive influence of Title IX in my life and the opportunity to play ball in college. Here are some other women who have enjoyed the effects of Title IX and are part of my favorite moments in sports history:
1996 | New Women's Olympic Sports. Women's softball and soccer made their Olympic debut at the Summer Games in Atlanta, and the U.S. dominated, winning the gold in both sports, as well as in basketball, gymnastics and synchronized swimming. The Atlanta Games made stars of Lisa Leslie, Mia Hamm and Lisa Fernandez, giving rise to professional softball and soccer leagues for women in the U.S.
1999 | Women's World Cup. A billion TV viewers and a stadium crowd of 90,000 witness the celebration as the U.S. wins the Women's World Cup in an overtime shoot-out against China. Brandi Chastain ripped off her jersey after scoring the winning goal, giving little girls someone besides a model to look at for a strong, beautiful body. And for the first time, a women's soccer team got as much attention a men's squad usually does.
2007 | Equal Pay at Wimbledon. After 123 years of awarding more prize money to men than women, Wimbledon yielded to public pressure and announced on Feb. 22, that it will offer equal pay through all rounds at this year's tournament.
2006 | Winningest Coach in NCAA History. Pat Summitt, the all-time winningest coach in NCAA basketball historymale or femaleearned her 900th career win as the Tennessee Lady Vols beat Vanderbilt, 80-68. That year, Summitt signed a $1.125 million deal for the 2006-07 season, making her the first women's basketball coach in history to be paid a million dollars or more.
2003 | Annika Plays a PGA Tour Event. Annika Sorenstam became the first woman since Babe Didrikson Zaharias in 1945 to compete in a PGA Tour event. Sorenstam missed the cut at the Colonialin Fort Worth, Texasby four strokes, but walked off the course to a standing ovation.
1997 | The WNBA is Born. The WNBA kicked off its inaugural season with eight teams, but unlike the other women's pro basketball leagues before it, this one has enjoyed longevity, this year celebrating its 10th year of existence.
2001 | Increased Exposure for the Women's Tournament. The NCAA and ESPN announced an 11-year agreement for the cable outlet to televise every game of the women's national championship basketball tournament.
Over the weekend I attended the International Federation of Volleyball���s (FIVB) 2007 World League matches in Chicago. Team USA prevailed over Italy both Friday and Saturday evening. I had never observed international volleyball before; it was exciting to watch athletes of that caliber perform.
The World League is an annual tournament created by the FIVB in 1990 to boost international interest and competition in volleyball. Last year, $20 million in prize money was distributed among 16 participating teams and individual, high-performing athletes.
Team USA now has a commanding lead in Pool B, which is comprised of USA, France, Italy and Japan. Should Team USA qualify for the final round of the World League, they will head to Katowice, Poland, in mid-July and attempt to capture their first-ever World League title.
If you have never experienced watching the national volleyball team compete, I would encourage you to do so. They put on a thrilling show and play in venues that allow you to be extremely near the action. The next U.S. appearance on the men���s schedule is September 14, for the NORCECA Championships in various locations across the United States.
Barry Bonds* is about to break one of the most coveted records in all of sports. As Bonds��� career home run count increases, so does conjecturing as to whether Bonds belongs in the Hall of Fame. Hank Aaron said he will not be at the game in which Bonds hits his 756th home run, and Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig has not announced if he will be present. The integrity of baseball is at an all-time low.
It is ironic that what is now drawing jeers and criticism from fans is what brought the fans back to the ballpark after the 232-day strike in 1994 that resulted in cancellation of the Word Series. Baseball returned, but many fans did not. It took the long ball (and steroids) to bring attendance and revenue back.
Major League Baseball���s stance on drug use has changed drastically in recent years. Prior to 2003, players didn���t have to worry about drug testing. Steroid accusations that once fell on deaf ears have now made their way into Congressional hearings. Now, at the risk of losing fans again, sport-wide standards are a must to restore credibility.
Barry Bonds has never tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs but his legacy is likely to never recover from the controversy. As in the ongoing metal-versus-wood bat debate in New York, regulation consistency is needed in sports today to reinstate integrity. I hope in the near future baseball returns to its original form; that fans return to baseball to see the sport free of steroids and records without controversy.
What do you think -- should Barry Bonds have a spot in the Hall of Fame?
Toby Guillette is Active.com's Endurance Online Community Specialist. He is an outdoor-adventure-sports aficionado specializing in ultra-running.
With Barry Bonds approaching the Major League Baseball home run record at a steady pace, the uncomfortable discussion of his hall-of-fame worthiness continues to underscore the priorities of American professional sports.
European bicycle racing has been the target of major doping scandals, investigations and confessions for decades. The endless cycle of use, detection and deception has recently injected its presence into professional baseball and steroid testing is now prevalent throughout the league. The slippery slope includes widespread use of human growth hormone (HGH) because there is not a test designed or administered to target the use of HGH. Now a urine test is in the developmental stages and thus the cycle continues.
The consequence for doping in the sport of professional cycling can cost an athlete his records, sponsorship and career while Major League Baseball players pay fines and serve multi-game suspensions. Even under the most aggressive circumstances, athletes in our society are encouraged to risk it all when the reward of sports success outweighs the punishment and stigma associated with the use performance enhancing drugs.
Whether Bonds enters the history books accompanied by an asterisk, or not, the origin of this subject remains the relationship of sport to our society. The complex web of commerce, media and politics will always dictate what the consumer deems moral or not. Fans will continue to buy tickets and tune in across the country to watch these modern-day super heroes ���go yard.���
Remember when baseball and softball got voted out of the Olympics? The popularity of baseball and softball is limited primarily to the Americas and Asia. As a result, the International Olympic Committee voted them to be the first sports cut from the Olympic program since polo in 1936. Unless voted back in, the 2008 Beijing Games will be the last chance for a nation���s baseball and softball teams to go for the gold.
Interestingly enough, skateboarding might fill that void. The IOC reportedly has held talks regarding the inclusion of skateboarding for the 2012 games in London. The huge success of snowboarding at the Winter Games has encouraged IOC President Jacques Rogge to support the skateboarding cause.
I am not too familiar with the global status of skateboarding, but it seems to me that the reason softball and baseball were voted out of the Olympics could apply as an argument to keep skateboarding out. Skateboarding never struck me as having worldwide popularity. Do you think skateboarding should be added?
The first-ever international youth soccer showcase in the U.S. took place last weekend. The U.S.F.C. Discover America(TM) International Youth Soccer Showcase, held at Concordia University in Irvine, Calif., played host to over two dozen of the top 16- to 18-year-old elite soccer players in the country.
Read more on how the U.S.F.C. Discover America(TM) International Youth Soccer Showcase brought premier-league European coaches, technical directors and scouts to the U.S., where they hoped to discover promising young players to enroll in their clubs' renowned training academies.
We've come full circle. I'm Rob Costlow and very happy to be back bringing you community updates and news. I've been deep into working on the new Active.com with the rest of the team. You may be wondering when the site is going to launch. I ask myself the same question. Nah, it's all good. We're currently in private beta and the new site is scheduled to go public before the end of June. In the meantime I have some great new features to share which will now be available in Phase 1. Wikis, email and RSS notifications (on all types of content), and your very own personal blog will be available. Already have a blog? No problem, importing tools will be available.
Alex Rodriguez shouted something while running towards third base to distract the third basemen from catching a pop up.
Not only teammates, but battery-mates Carlos Zambrano and Michael Barrett of the Chicago Cubs got in a fist fight in the dug out.
Lou Pinella received a three-day suspension as Major League Baseball cited contact he made while arguing with and kicking dirt on an umpire.
A minor-league manager went on a tirade that lasted just over two minutes, tossing bases and army-crawling across the field. It reminded me a little bit of a 1-year-old crawling around as he made a fool of himself and his team, and disrespected the umpires and the game.
Is this more than baseball can handle on top of the steroid issue? Is the integrity of baseball going downhill faster than it can be stopped?
He is rounding third for the play at the plate, the throw is in time. He takes the "Leap of faith", the catcher tags his trailing foot and he is called out! Wait, the dust settles and the ball comes out and the ruling is overturned...SAFE!!!