Bethany Bruner

In 1972, an act of legislation later called Title IX was put into effect. Title IX gave both men and women a chance to participate in sports.

In 2011, women’s athletics are a staple of high school and college life. More than 3 million girls participate in high school sports every year.

This is what makes what happened at a high school wrestling match in Iowa all the more surprising.

A high school wrestler forfeited a match in the state championship because his opponent was a female.

While some may say wrestling is a guy’s sport and girls should stay out, the wrestler in Iowa had every right to participate.

Under Title IX, any girl who wants to play a sport can play on the guy’s team if there isn’t an equal girl’s team available.

This principle is why there are girls on some high school football teams. Since there wasn’t a girl’s wrestling team, she wrestled with and against the guys.

The wrestler who forfeited was within his rights as well. He didn’t have to wrestle if he didn’t want to, but he had gotten to the state meet and was a few matches away from a state title.

He worked all season long to walk away from it because of the gender of his opponent.

I know if I had worked for months to get to the state title, I wouldn’t back out because I had to wrestle against someone who was different from me.

As a girl, playing against the guys has always been a bigger deal to others than it is to me.

My high school basketball team practiced against the boy’s team on a weekly basis.

This wasn’t a big deal to the other players or myself, but our local newspaper published a lengthy feature about us.

Apparently, practicing against the boys was a novelty.

To hear someone say girls can’t or shouldn’t play with the boys still irritates me.

We beat the boy’s team regularly in practice. Granted, we probably couldn’t go out and beat a boy’s varsity team every night, but we had our days.

I would argue there are some women’s basketball teams on the collegiate level that could beat a lot of the men’s basketball teams.

Take the University of Connecticut women’s team for example. The ladies on that team won 90 straight games and beat opponents by double digits as habit.

Most men’s teams likely would have to push their limits to compete with this team.

As Title IX approaches its 40th anniversary, women’s athletics have made great strides and female athletes have more opportunities than ever before.

It is a shame that there are still athletes who can’t see past gender. It should be about the heart and the ability of the competitor, not the gender of the athlete.

Maybe in another 40 years this will all change.

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