Title 9: Running in the Footsteps of Giants
I love running. I love the way it makes me feel. Strong. Invincible. Free.
I take it for granted that I have always been allowed to participate in sports. I remember being on my very first softball team. Our colors were yellow and black. I was 7 and I was called "small fry." My position was right field. You know... where the ball never goes?
I remember physical education class, aka P.E., with Ms Teegarten in 8th grade. Yikes, she was mean. And, I remember running track in high school. Little did I know then that my body is built for distance, not speed. No wonder I always pooped out on the 400. (that's sprinting once around a standard 400 meter track)
Consider this: Title 9 was passed in 1972. I was 3. It wasn't until 1979 that the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare under Jimmy Carter's administration issued a policy interpretation for Title IX, including what has become known as the "three-prong test" of an institution's compliance.
1. Prong one - Providing athletic opportunities that are substantially proportionate to the student enrollment, OR
2. Prong two - Demonstrate a continual expansion of athletic opportunities for the underrepresented sex, OR
3. Prong three - Full and effective accommodation of the interest and ability of underrepresented sex.
I was 3 when Title 9 passed, 7 when I played my first sport, and 10 when a policy interpretation was issued, which means that a lot changed for girls for the better in less than a decade. Crazy, huh?
I recently set a goal to run 2-half marathons in 2008. Originally I thought I would go for a full marathon, but I did just give birth to Jonah 4 months ago. And I am working full-time while caring for him.... okay, okay, I digress....
To keep myself motivated, I found a running partner, created a training schedule and signed up for an e-newsletter from Runners World (www.runnersworld.com). This week's e-newsletter covered the Boston Marathon. And it was there that I watched a video about Katherine Switzer.
It blows me away that I never heard of her before now. According to her website, "Katherine Switzer will always be best known as the woman who challenged the all-male tradition of the Boston Marathon and became the first woman to officially enter and run the event. Her entry created an uproar and worldwide notoriety when a race official tried to forcibly remove her from the competition.
Three decades later, the incident continues to capture the public imagination and is, in part, the reason Switzer has dedicated her multi-faceted career to creating opportunities and equal sport status for women.
That career has included creating programs in 27 countries for over 1 million women that led to the inclusion of the women's marathon as an official event in the Olympic Games, changing forever the face of sports, health and opportunities for women around the world."
Somedays I just know that I run in the footsteps of giants.