Our Miami Springs Tigers are serious about softball. Almost as serious as I am about practicing law. These fifth and sixth graders have made the choice to play year-round. Likely in preparation for taking the Miami Springs Golden Hawks to state finals in 2017. I hope they invite me to come along.
Women's sports are far more common, and well respected, than when I was in 5th grade. The change in attitude is in part due to the federal legislation known as Title IX. Yes, yes, there were women's sports before Title IX -- women's basketball started before 1900, soccer was being played sporatically throughout the US by women in the 50s and 60s, and softball, which was originally a man's sport, actually had a short-lived women's professional league in the US in 1976.
However, it was Title IX, which was passed in 1972, that made women's sports mainstream. Like any good discrimniation legislation, Title IX took years to make a difference in cultural attitudes. But once changes were made, attitudes changed and changed fast.
Mia Hamm, who was born in 1972, was one of the first "superstars" in women's sports. She grew up in the era of Title IX and probably would not have had the opportunity to show the world how interesting and exciting women's sports can be, but for Title IX legislation mandating that women and men receive equal opportunties with regard to sports in schools. As a broad brush explanation, Title IX mandates that everything from equipment to practice time and from locker room facilities to publicity be equal for men and women athletes. Participation in women's sports has increased exponentially in the past thirty-five years. In addition, the increase in the number of coaches, athletic directors, and other sports related jobs that belong to women is futher evidence that Title IX did not just provide our children with opportunities to play sports, but opened up a whole new careers path for women.
In my house, it is all boys. But in my village, it is the young ladies that I worry about, advocate for, and champion. Life is not all cheerleading and beauty pagents -- although those are fun too. Our fast, strong, and driven young women are going to make great doctors, dentists, lawyers, accountants, general contractors, bankers, entreprenuers, teachers, coaches, or college presidents in thirty years. The lessons they learn from sports are going to serve them well. Great job Little League, great job!