The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association will begin a year-long celebration of the 50th anniversary of Title IX legislation this month.
The WIAA celebrates its 126th anniversary this year, and of all the events that have happened since 1896, perhaps nothing has impacted high school sports more than Title IX of the Education Amendments in 1972.
Two years before the adoption of Title IX, the WIAA held its first women’s tournament with the Girls’ State Swimming and Diving Championships on October 31, 1970 at Beloit High School. During the 1970–71 school year, the WIAA held two more state tournaments, including gymnastics and track and field.
Participation in the tournament that year reached 4,312 girls. Fast forward to 2020-21, and 60,637 girls, including several student-athletes, participated in 11 sports. A 12th sport was added in 2021-22 with the sponsorship of Women’s Wrestling, which kicks off Title IX 50th Anniversary Recognition on Jan. 29 at the La Crosse Center in La Crosse, Wis.
According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, the year before Title IX passed, there were fewer than 300,000 girls participating in high school sports nationwide, or about one in every 27 girls. who attended school. Two years later, that figure had risen to 1,300,169, and by the 1977–78 school year, girls’ attendance exceeded 2 million, an increase of almost 1.7 million in just six years. The number of girls involved in high school sports has continued to grow since those historic years, and currently more than 3.4 million girls are enjoying the opportunity to participate in these vital, life-changing programs.
The lives of millions of girls have been enriched through participation in inter-school opportunities since 1972, and the WIAA will recognize some of the pioneers and people who have paved the way for future generations over the next 12 months.