Title IX should protect non-school-related sports

by Aubri Elliott, Floyd Central High School

Title IX protects female athletes in school-related sports, but what about non-school-related sports such as boxing and MMA? I have been training off and on since 2020 and have experienced all kinds of things that wouldn’t happen if my boxing gym was covered by Title IX.

At my gym, which I will not name, the head coach refuses to train girls/women; therefore, we are stuck in a beginners class unable to advance our skills. My brother, a 16 year-old male, is in the advanced class and has many opportunities to go to fights and has won many as well.

However, I have been at the same gym for around half the amount of time he has and have gotten no fight opportunities and have had no opportunities to improve my own skills. If the world of boxing and MMA was held to the same standard we hold our school-related sports to, women and young girls would have not only a place to take out their anger and frustration but also a way to learn to protect themselves from the scary world we live in today. 

Title IX makes school-related sports give females the same opportunities as they would the males. This includes equal access to playing time, scholarships and equipment. It also makes sure that they have the same level of resources. If this applied to gyms like mine they would not be able to keep me from advancing to the high level class.   

Sophomore Aubri Elliott practices on July 7 with her private trainer. Used with permission of Seth Thompson

Female MMA fighters are often pushed around, and no I don’t mean in the ring. According to The Financial, they only make 61% of what a male MMA fighter makes and when subtracting pro ufc fighter Ronda Rousey it dropped to only 41%.

 These powerful women are doing the exact same thing as these men and make less than half of what they make. Title IX needs to expand out of the schools and help us women in male-dominated individual sports.

Sports like boxing and MMA are so important in this day and age so that women don’t feel like they can’t do them just because it is male-dominated. For a while I was the only girl in my gym. Some would come for one day and then never come back. I don’t know if it was because they felt less than the men there, threatened or just felt like the class they had to take was too dumbed down but watching these young women and girls being deterred from their interest shows there needs to be a stand.

UN women acknowledged sport has the power to change lives. Women in sport defy gender stereotypes and social norms, make inspiring role models, and show men and women are equals. 

The article from UN women goes on to call on stakeholders from across the sports world to be a part of a coalition to make gender equality a reality in sports. If you are a female athlete like me and want to make a change, it is time to take charge.

Dr. Lauren Smith, associate professor of sports media said, “There is a market for women’s sports if you make it available”