Title IX should prioritize women of color

by Allara Baker, Lawrence North High School

Title IX has opened the doors for women and their opportunities in sports and protection, but there’s not enough being done for Black women in turn.  According to a study conducted by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, Black women only made up 12 percent of athletes on all-female sports teams in 2020-2021. And there needs to be acknowledgement of these issues so that every woman will get a chance in sports.

In college sports, black women usually face not getting the chance to be involved in games and practices, and are usually sidelined.. Race has also not been a considered factor in the law itself.

Students attend an event at the IU Memorial Stadium Freshman Orientation. Title IX protects women in sports, but the same energy isn’t being shown to Black women. Photo used with permission of Gillian Paxton.

Even black female sports teams don’t gain much traction or an equal fan base compared to sports teams consisting of white women. The problem lies in its origins depending on existing laws that discuss racial discrimination. Title IX came into the picture focusing on gender, so the ambiguity about what applies to WOC has been missing since day one. 

The singular focus on sex is crucial, and it was a much-needed law that benefits us as women, but it still pushes black women to the back of the bleachers. It has done some good for WOC, as they are more eligible to be enrolled in college sports, but the chances of them feeling a part of the team is very slim.

It’s also worth noting that groups such as the Women Sports Foundation found that while the bill was a huge improvement, it does little to address the topic of racial equity.Title IX did not lessen the discrimination against women of color but only continues to amplify it, whether intentional or not.

Diversity in student populations among colleges lacks equality as well. 42% of college campuses also consist of 90%  white students compared to black students.  The more unbalanced things continue to get, the fewer chances there are for equal treatment for all women under Title IX.

To make representation such a prevalent effort in sports today, we need to have more women of color on the front lines. Black women are only 2% of head coaches and 2% of athletic directors across all divisions of the NCAA. White women, however, make up 21% of head coaches and 19% of athletic directors. In addition, 56% of all of the Division 1 female student-athletes are white compared to the 21% that are black. And due to the issues shown in who the system has always prioritized, white division 1 athletes are more destined for success.

With the rights protected by Title IX, they should apply to all women, no matter their race. The discrimination that black women face in sports also apply to SA cases as they have a higher risk of harassment. They usually get blamed or punished for crimes of discrimination against them.

They should not have to wait to have their voices heard. They should not have to make their resources available to them due to the treatment of this law. Title IX should apply to all women, especially women of color, no matter how much the system has always tried to bring them down.