There She Is . . . The Real Ms. America

The new issue of the Collingtonian, the monthly resident publication at our retirement community, Collington, includes a wonderful article about how the US got to its unmatched position in women’s sport.

It is an interview with Joan Hult, below, who played a pivotal role in making that happen, and her interview provides some powerful lessons about how societies change.  Read the whole article, and share with anyone who cares about any of these issues.

hult

The article describes how it all got started:

Joan’s association with the U.S. Olympic Committee began in the 1960s, when “I went to them and I said, ‘You guys are never winning in women’s sports and that’s because we don’t teach women to play competitively.’ I said, ‘I can give you 10 women that are right now ready to win.’”

This was no idle boast. Since 1958, Joan had been at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn., where she became chair of the women’s physical education department, coached
every women’s sport except gymnastics and founded the women’s intercollegiate sports program.

There was political savy too.

Working with Birch Bayh, a senator from her home state of Indiana, she helped bring about the passage of Title IX, an amendment to the Civil Rights Act.

Title IX is often described as promoting equality of men’s and women’s sports programs. But Joan pointed out that it wasn’t that simple. “We were smarter than that,” she said. Facing a predominantly male Congress and sports establishment, Title IX’s backers were careful to keep its language as neutral as possible. She recalled that she and Bayh “worked together quite well, although it’s really his wife that kind of talked him into taking this to Congress. He was smart enough to not have a bunch of women” as prominent advocates, so Joan and others worked behind the scenes.

The original Title IX never mentioned sports. It simply guaranteed equal access to educational opportunity. (Legislation in 1988 mandated gender equality in collegiate athletic scholarships.)

And so it gets to this (photos on google).

By the way, Joan’s book, A Century of Women’s Basketball: From Frailty to the Final Four, published in 1991, is on Amazon.

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