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Men Vs. Women in Professional Sports

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Men Vs. Women in Professional Sports Ever since the ancient Greece, men have held athletic competitions or sports. It is only in modern times that women have had an opportunity to compete. Most sports still don't have men and women directly competing against one another. In the past athletic instructors adapted the rules to make sports less physically taxing for women. For instance in basketball, to ensure that girls maintain proper decorum, they were forbidden from snatching the ball and dribbling it more than three times in row. Females would not be considered strong enough to play a full-court basketball game until 1971. Women have struggled to be taken seriously as athletes for more than two centuries. Over the years, females have competed against the stereotype of being too fragile to play strenuous sports. During the 1920s, many people believed that girls couldn't handle the stress of interscholastic competition. In the 1930s, some doctors warned that high-stress sports might harm a woman's reproductive system. Women playing in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League had to attend charm school. There, they studied etiquette and beauty routines, including how to arrange their hair in a manner that would "best retain its natural style despite vigorous play." The Olympics did not admit women athletes until 1912. Women could not compete in the marathon competition until 1984, partially because some medical experts thought that women could injure their organs by participating. A major turning point for women's sports occurred when President Richard Nixon signed Title IX of the Educational Amendment of 1972, which states that any educational program receiving Federal assistance can lose its funding if it discriminates on the basis of sex. This legislation was a great opportunity for women because it gave female athletes access to better equipment, coaches, playing fields, and travel budgets. Before Title IX, Interscholastic competition for females had been declining over the years. According to the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) In 1970, only one out of 27 girls played high school varsity sports. Now, due in part to Title IX, that number is one in three. While Title IX has greatly decreased the disparity between male and females in College athletics, in professional sports, the disparity is evident.

In professional sports the disparity between the male and female leagues are still there. Over the past twenty years, however women have made great strides towards being considered equal in sports. Women first started taking great strides in professional sports during World War II. When the male professional baseball players went off to war, a group of team owners started a professional league for woman (the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League). This league turned out to be successful. After the men came back from war, however the woman's league could no longer sustain itself financially and had to shut down. Over the past twenty years, however there have been more and more professional women sports leagues opening and prospering. One such league is the WNBA (Women's National Basketball Association), while the league opened being financially backed by the male league (NBA) over its first five years it has become a financial success with high profits and good TV ratings on major and cable networks. Some woman's leagues even become just as or ever more successful that there male counterparts. An example of such a league in the women's professional tennis tour which lately has had better television ratings and draws more fans than its male counterpart. In 2001 for the first time, ever the woman's Final at the US Open Tennis Championship (the tours most prestigious played in the United States) was broadcast on a major television network (NBC) in primetime (8pm). Media coverage of women's sports is considered important because it increases the level of participation among girls. More than 658,000 fans at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California and 1 billion worldwide television viewers watched the 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup soccer championships, the most successful women's sporting event ever. This incredible publicity is expected to cause an explosion of female interest in soccer, already the most popular sport among college-age females, according to a recent study by the National College Athletic Association. Members of the U.S. women's soccer team say they are relying on future generations to keep their team supplied with talent. To take advantage of its time in the spotlight, the team launched a twelve-city tour against a team of world all-stars in the months following its win. They wanted to demonstrate to the USSF (United States Soccer Federation) that a woman's professional league would attract crowds and be financially viable. Players say a league is needed to maintain the growth of women's soccer.

Some female sports leagues have not been as successful. In 2001, there were a professional woman's football and soccer leagues launched. The football league had to close after only a few weeks due to lack of fan support and sponsorships as well as not having a television contract. The soccer league has faired somewhat better due to the huge national media attention the United States Women's soccer team received after winning the World Cup of Soccer in 1999. They however also suffer from little fan support and no television

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