Rio Olympics: American Women are Pre-eminent

Tuesday, January 23, 2016

In Top Effort by U.S., American Women Are Pre-eminent

By Jere Longman

Rio De Janeiro–“…The size and depth of the American States team resulted in the most gold (46), silver (37) and bronze (38) medals of any nation…

Most striking was the performance by the American women.  The American men won 18 gold medals, the same as Britain.  But the American women were dominant with 27 (not including a gold in mixed doubles tennis).  Had the women competed as a separate country, they would have ranked third in the overall medal count…

There are two primary reasons for this pre-eminance.  The United States is one of the few countries to embed sports within the public education system. And equal access to sports for women comes with legal protections, gained with the education amendment known as Title IX in 1972 and the Olympic and Amateur Sports Act in 1978.

About one of every two American girls participates in sports in high school, according to the U.S.O.C., nearly 85 percent participated in university-funded sports…

A level playing field benefits all athletes and helps our medal chances,’ said Jill Geer, a spokes woman for U.S.A. Track & Field.”

A level field includes not only the field itself, but the protections for women instituted in 1972 and 1978 at both the high school and the university levels.  When I was at U.C. Berkely before these laws there was no such protection and money was allocated to men first.  Women were on the U.C. tennis team,  but no women’s U.C. swim team.  I organized a intra-residence and sorority women’s group to compete: there was a butterfly-breast Olympic gold winner competing in our little group weekly, as well as other young women winning medals, one a silver medal in the back stroke and a gold in the relay.  And the young women in a local synchronized swim team had won national titles, but not for U.C.  This changed in the ’70s.

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