A Place on the Team is the inside story of how Title IX revolutionized American sports. The federal law guaranteeing women's rights in education, Title IX opened gymnasiums and playing fields to millions of young women previously locked out. Journalist Welch Suggs chronicles both the law's successes and failures-the exciting opportunities for women as well as the commercial and recruiting pressures of modern-day athletics.
Enlivened with tales from Suggs's reportage, the book clears up the muddle of interpretation and opinion surrounding Title IX. It provides not only a lucid description of how courts and colleges have read (and misread) the law, but also compelling portraits of the people who made women's sports a vibrant feature of American life.
What's more, the book provides the first history of the law's evolution since its passage in 1972. Suggs details thirty years of struggles for equal rights on the playing field. Schools dragged their feet, offering token efforts for women and girls, until the courts made it clear that women had to be treated on par with men. Those decisions set the stage for some of the most celebrated moments in sports, such as the Women's World Cup in soccer and the Women's Final Four in NCAA basketball.
Title IX is not without its critics. Wrestlers and other male athletes say colleges have cut their teams to comply with the law, and Suggs tells their stories as well.
With the chronicles of Pat Summitt, Anson Dorrance, and others who shaped women's sports, A Place on the Team is a must-read not only for sports buffs but also for parents of every young woman who enters the arena of competitive sports.
After Title IX of the Higher Education Act passed in 1972, women's athletics began to change. While women's sports existed long before the amendment was passed, Title IX brought about more opportunities, more scholarships and more teams for women. But the first three decades after its passing were also marred with dark periods of protest and noncompliance and, to this day, Title IX remains a work in progress. All the highs and the lows, are extensively chronicled in Suggs's book, a must-read for any sports historian or female athlete interested in how the opportunities she so freely enjoys came about. But for every proponent of Title IX, there exists opposition, Suggs writes. "In mandating that women athletes be treated the same as men, the law encouraged women's sports to develop in the hypercompetitive, highly commercialized model that evolved in men's sports." He notes that others argued men's sports were being cut in order to comply with Title IX, creating conflict between male and female athletes and coaches. In 1976, Yale rowers made headlines when they stripped nude, "Title IX" written across their chests and backs, to protest the cutting of sports of "lesser importance," like crew, in colleges across the nation. "These are the bodies Yale is exploiting," the men said in a written statement. The awarding of scholarships was another critical change for women's college sports, making it possible for schools to recruit women for the sole purpose of playing on sports teams. As Title IX is celebrated and debated, Suggs's book, the most extensive on the subject, includes in-depth looks at pre- and post-Title IX athletics and clearly deciphers one of the most controversial laws in American history.