By Laura Pappano
In the new May/June issue of The Women’s Review of Books, I wrote about Susan Ware’s new book, Game, Set, Match: Billie Jean King and the Revolution in Women’s Sports (UNC, 2011). You can read the view here.
The book is timely, given mounting evidence that Title IX is poorly enforced (think “roster management”) and too weak (or perhaps complicated) a tool to enforce gender fairness in the face of the sports industrial complex.
Title IX was helpful. But it hasn’t solved the problems of either access or equity. In taking us back to the 1970s, the growth of women’s sports, and the example of Billie Jean King – an entrepreneurial force as well as a great tennis player – Ware may be offering a nudge. It may be time for new strategies.
A few things to note:
– WOMEN DEMANDED ACCESS EVEN BEFORE TITLE IX – NOT BECAUSE OF THE LAW. After decades of genuflecting before Title IX and citing the stunning growth in women’s sports participation since – girls’ participation in high school sports rose 979 percent, from 294,000 to 3.17 million, between 1971 and 2009 – Ware reminds us that most of that increase happened before Title IX had taken effect in 1978.