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Dads Stand Up for Daughters and Girl's Sports

In honor of Father’s Day and the 45th anniversary of Title IX we are reposting our article about the important role father’s play in supporting their daughters. 

Check out our post on the Huffington Post blog,  The Importance of Fathers in Sports Gender Equality.

Title IX is the landmark legislation passed in 1972 that prohibited discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally-funded education program or activity. Implementing the provisions of the new law was a slow and arduous process in which fathers emerged as the champions of enforcement on behalf of their daughters.

As Karen Blumenthal says in her book, Title IX: The Law That Changed the Future of Girls in America:

Congress passed the law that opened doors for girls and women in school and sports, and the government was charged with enforcing it. But the secret weapons in the fight for fairness was dads.

The generation of girls born in the 1970’s and beyond grew up with fathers who firmly believed their girls should have the same experiences as their boys.  When teams were dropped, when fields were in disrepair, when the coaching wasn’t very good, dads went to bat for their daughters. They protested to principals and school superintendents and sometimes filed the lawsuits that ultimately got girls spots on teams. 

Billie Jean King says that men in their forties and fifties still come up to her today to say that they watched her play Bobbie Riggs and that the match changed their lives, especially their attitudes about their daughters. “They are the first generation to insist that their daughters and sons have equal opportunities,” she said.

Lisa Fernandez, a softball superstar who helped pitch the US team to three Olympic gold medals, said her father encouraged her all the way. As an immigrant from Cuba, he couldn’t have known many female athletes growing up. But he urged her to get stronger and to play hard. “I can’t say enough about my dad and the support he’s always had for me,” she said.

Photo: Charlotte Cooley with her dad, Deeje Cooley, who train together at Paresh Martial Arts in San Francisco. Photo by Jackson Cooley.


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