Women are regularly reminded that no matter how many laws are passed, true gender equality doesn’t really exist. The Women’s Sports Foundation was founded by Billie Jean King in 1974. The tennis legend used her national and worldwide recognition to carry out a mission that included the publication of the first College Athletic Scholarship Guide for women in 1975.
The most famous tennis match of all time is probably “The Battle of the Sexes” match held on September 20, 1973. Looking for an opportunity to draw attention to tennis and to earn some money for himself, Bobby Riggs, holder of several U.S. Pro titles, challenged Billie Jean King to a match at the Houston Astrodome. The $100,000 prize was won in a match played under normal rules of tennis by King, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3.
Decades later, in 1992, a similar match was held between Martina Navratilova and Jimmy Connors. Unlike the “Battle of the Sexes”, the rules were changed in this instance so that the female player was favored.
During the 1970’s there were very few opportunities for women who had the ability to successfully compete in college athletics. When opportunities were found, they were ignored by the media. With the help of the work done by Trustees and volunteers, the situation has greatly improved.
Over 40 percent of intercollegiate athletics participants are woman. Over 150,000 women now compete at NCAA member institutions. They receive approximately 43 percent of scholarship funds.
Since 1977 when the first grant programs were established by the Foundation, over $8 million in scholarships and cash grants have been awarded. Educational materials and services totaling $42 million have been provided to grassroots organizations, teams and individuals.
More than 450 young professions have found assistance through the Foundation’s Internship Program that was established in 1982. The programs teach professional skills and help implement programs that leads to successful careers.
Over $1 million in college scholarships have been granted through the High School All-Star program to deserving female athletes.
The Foundation established “Grants for Girls” in 1990. From this program, the GoGirlGo! Grants came into being, and over $1 million dollars were awarded during its first 3 years.
The Women’s Sports Foundation advocates equality. They promote the Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972 that states:
“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”