Photography lesson

Lesson of the Day: “How Women’s Sports Teams Got Started”

Featured article: “How Women’s Sports Teams Beganby Maria Cramer

In 1972, Congress passed Title IX, the landmark gender equality legislation that affected women’s and women’s sports, college admissions, college programs, professional programs, teaching positions and coaches and even dealing with sexual assault on campus.

In this lesson, you will learn about the history of women’s sports and the role of Title IX in solving the problem of gender discrimination in sports. Next, you will participate in a silent Big Paper conversation with your classmates to discuss gender-based integration or separation in sport.

Part 1: Reflecting on the journal

Do you play sports at school or in your community? How often do you think about your gender identity when playing sports? Is your team gender integrated or segregated? How important is gender separation or integration to you when performing? Why?

Part 2: Video

Have you ever heard of Title IX? What do you know about this important law on gender equality? For more, watch this 3-minute video from Sporting News on the history of Title IX.

  • How was Title IX born? What led to the passage of the bill?

  • What is title IX for? What does it protect and who does it protect?

  • What is the purpose of Title IX today?

Read the articlethen answer the following questions:

1. Why was Sybil Bauer’s backstroke performance at Northwestern University in 1922 a pivotal moment in challenging beliefs about women’s athletic abilities?

2. How does the number of girls and women in sport today compare to that of 1972, when Title IX was first enacted?

3. What were the beginnings of women’s sports teams like? How were the rules changed? What do you think of these changes?

4. What is the view of Sheree Bekker, lecturer in sports health and medicine, on the origin of women’s sports teams? How do the examples of Madge Syers, Jackie Mitchell or Zhang Shang support his thesis? Do you agree with his point of view? Why or why not?

5. Why does Chad Carlson, an associate professor of kinesiology, believe that college and team administrators should explore sports team integration? According to Susan K. Cahn, historian and author of a book on gender and sexuality in women’s sport, why would the integration of sport create a conundrum? Which point of view do you agree with? Why?

In your journal, write your response to the article. What have you learned? What surprised or moved you? How does the article apply to you and your life?

Then read this quote from the article and write your answers to the questions below in your journal:

Since the adoption of Title IX, women have been competitive with men at the elite level in areas such as rock climbing, surfing, and endurance sports, such as ultra running and cycling.

Their accomplishments have some wondering: Should we start incorporating more professional sports?

What is your answer to the above question? Do you think high school or college sports should be integrated? What about professional or pre-professional sports teams?

Now, in class, engage in a silent conversation about Big Paper, in person or virtually. In groups, respond to the question above, or a quote from the featured article, on a large sheet of paper. You must use the written word – not spoken words – to communicate and respond to the quote. Take time to reflect on your responses, but also give yourself space to be challenged by what others have to say. You can directly write back to what someone else writes on your Big Paper, or draw arrows or symbols to respond to other comments.

After five minutes, you will go to another group’s Big Paper and read back their silent conversation. Your group will have the opportunity to respond silently and write responses.

Finally, you will come back to class and have a verbal discussion about what you noticed in the Big Paper conversations. You can share comments that surprised you or offered you a different perspective, and you can share trends or similarities that you might have noticed in other perspectives or beliefs.

Additional teaching and learning opportunities

  • Learn more about a past or present woman in sport. The article mentions the women of the past who paved the way, as well as some contemporary women who dominate sports like surfing, ultra running and cycling. Choose one of these women to find out more by searching online or in your library. Find out how this person got started, their accomplishments, and the challenges they faced. You can share your discoveries with your classmates by creating a one-pager.

  • Interview a female athlete in your community. Who are the star female athletes at your school or on a local team? What would you like to know about their experiences as a girl or woman in sport? Do background research on this person by checking their social media and reading local newspaper articles. Then write down at least five questions you would like to ask them.

    If you want to share your interview in writing, use this guide to our profile contest for tips on preparing for and conducting your interview. Or if you’d rather start a podcast, you can jump into this interview guide that gives advice on “The Daily” podcast. If you create a podcast no longer than five minutes, you can submit it to our student podcast competition before May 18 — be sure to read the instructions carefully!

  • Learn more about trans and non-binary athletes. Title IX also protects trans and non-binary athletes. To learn more about some of their experiences and perspectives, read the article “Non-Binary Runners Have Been Here The Whole Time”, then watch the opinion documentary “I’m a Trans Runner Struggling to Compete Fairly”. What perspectives and experiences have you learned through reading and video? Put these takeaways in conversation with the featured article; How do these new insights relate to the topics discussed in the article you read above?


Want more daily lessons? You can find them all here.