The act that brought gender equality to college sports has reached middle age. Monday marks the 40th anniversary of Title IX which was passed by Congress on June 23, 1974. Ever since then, the act has opened doors for gender equality in sports and higher education. Since the Harvard women's rowing team's demonstrations that helped shape the movement, we have seen an exponential rise in women's participation in sports, as well as a whole new group of sports being offered as options to young girls.
Although it's common knowledge that Title IX made colleges and universities offer equal support to women's and men's sports, few people know about the other benefits of the act. Many of the protections under the "living law" force colleges to investigate and report sexual assault and harassment, and parts of Title IX set the legal precedent for actions like the FBI's investigation of Florida State's policies. The law also promotes gender equality in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields, and forces schools to respond to the struggles of pregnant and parenting students.
Even though Title IX comes with great added benefits, the central battle behind the law was equal access to sports, regardless of gender. So here are some movies that will remind us all that your gender identification has nothing to do with how badass you are on the field, pitch, ice, or stage.
In one scene, Goldie Hawn shows us all what female long-distance runners are made of while sticking it to a bunch of men half her age. This quintessential film about female coaches shows us all the endurance and tenacity of female athletes. You go, Goldie Hawn.
A League of Their Own (1992)
For years, I didn't know why my dad kept telling me "there's no crying in football." Then I watched A League of Their Own and found out how the original girl power in sports movie inspired the phrase. Some of the gender stereotypes might be dated, but we can all fondly remember a time when Madonna thought she could act.
The Mighty Ducks (1992)
The Mighty Ducks might be the only sports movie that included girls on the team and didn't need to make a fuss about it. Connie is a staple from the beginning of the movie, and when Tammy joins, her family's figure skating background is more of an issue than her gender. My hat is off to early-'90s Disney.
Bring It On (2000)
It's true that this movie has some problems as a girls-in-sports rallying cry, since so much emphasis is placed on looks. However, the portrayal of straight and gay male cheerleaders who are friends, paired with the discussion of wealth inequality in American school sports brings it.
She's The Man (2006)
She's The Man might be both my favorite romantic comedy and one of my favorite sports movies. Who other than Amanda Bynes and Channing Tatum could adapt Twelfth Night into a comedy about soccer, private schools, and talking to girls? If you haven't seen Amanda Bynes kill it as both Viola and Viola trying to be Sebastian, you should drop everything and watch it this second.
Happy 40th Title XI! Without you we wouldn't have equal rights when it comes to college sports, nor a list of movies that includes the odd combination of Madonna, Goldie Hawn, and Amanda Bynes.
Image: Lakeshore Entertainment