It’s time to Break It Down!
The 17 days of the 2012 Summer Olympics are over and done. For now, the United Stateshas returned to the top of the heap in terms of the grandest of all athletic endeavors…the Summer Games. At first glance, it may appear the 104 medals (46 Gold, 29 Silver, 29 Bronze) garnered by Americans, most in these Olympics, is the story, and indeed, perhaps it is the story. But if the total medals haul is the story; the story inside the story is that women accounted for more than half of those medals.
That’s right, American women won 58 medals in London, exactly half of them, 29, were Gold.It was a series of historic performances amid numerous extraordinary moments. Female athletes comprised a majority of America’s Olympians, including the oldest (Karen O’Connor 54) and the youngest (Katie Ledecky 15,and a Gold Medalist) of our Olympians. They also brought home a majority of our country’s medal take.
American women earned more medals than their male counterparts (58 to 46) and more Gold Medals (29-17) as well. Moreover, Only two countries, the United States and China, won more Gold Medals than did the American women. Great Britain managed a tie, at 29.In fact, by themselves, Americanwomen won more total medals than all but 4of the 204 countries participating in the Games; the United States, China, Great Britain, and Russia.
American women did much more than hold their own in London. There is no other way to frame it; they were dominant. So you may ask how dominant were the Americanwomen?
They were so dominant that most Americans found it difficult to be sad when a pair of American women won theSilver Medal in Beach Volleyball. Why was that?
Because Silver Medalists Jennifer Kessy and April Ross lost in the Gold Medal Match to Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings; also Americans. OK, so it’s fair to presume Kessy, Ross, and their friends and families may have been sad, but you get the point; the Gold Medal not only went to America; it was assured of doing so before the first serve. That’s dominance!
Finally, if the U.S.medal count is the story, and the American women’s dominance is the story inside the story, the catalytic event behind the story inside the story is the 1972passage of Title IX Legislation. At first glance, the law, fraught with controversy, did not portend such an impactful outcome on women’s sports.
When President Nixon signed the bill June 23, 1972, he spoke mostly of busing desegregation, also an emphasis of the law.In fact, he did not even mention the expansion of educational access for women, or their playing sports.
In terms of 21st Century impact however, today’s lens shines a completely different light on the subject. In most communities, if busing for desegregationpurposes was ever the law, it has long ago been reversed, overturned, or simply ended by fiat. Alternately, a contemporary assessment of female participation in sports shows a 900% increase in high school, and a 450% increase on the collegiate level. Just to be clear, the percentages of participation in sports for both high school and college have also grown for males, but by not nearly as dramatic an increase; 15% for high school, and 31%for college.
The effects of Title IX did not just miraculously materialize in London. The process has been gradual andcumulative. It just so happens that on the 40th Anniversary ofenacting the law, we saw what amounted to an explosion on a variety of fields of play; some of which the U.S. may not have competed at all, and others, surely not so successfully, pre-Title IX. Ten Examples of this incremental development over time advacement in athletic acumen include American women having won 2012 Olympic Gold Medals in:
- Gymnastics (Team & Individual)
- Beach Volleyball (Gold & Silver)
- 4X200m Freestyle Relay
- 4X100m Medley Relay
- Tennis Doubles
- Tennis Singles
- 4X400m Track Relay
Fortyyears ago, European women were thought of as vastly superior to Americansin many sports endeavors. In fact, they were routinely thought to be dominant. All and all, the London Games were the most productive Olympics for Americans in terms of Gold Medals of any Olympics not hosted by the U.S. Americanwomen were instrumental in our success, and Title IX was the elephant in the roomin terms of their competing at the highest level. I’ll say it again, American Women Ruled the 2012 Olympics: The Title IX Story! Now you know.
I’m done; holla back!
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