This week marks the 50th anniversary of the passing of the Title IX educational amendment to the 14th amendment of the U.S. Constitution. In case you need a refresher: the 14th Amendment provides equal protection under the law for all citizens of the United States. Title IX, however, more specifically prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in educational institutions receiving federal financial assistance.
Of course, there are further applications of Title IX that have become an intrinsic part of higher education and the student experience over the course of the decades since its passage – some of which have shifted from one presidential administration to the next – but one of the most consistent uses has been in funding women’s sports and providing opportunities to female athletes.
Given that Title IX has been a part of American culture for half a century, at this point it would be safe to assume most people are familiar with what it is – and that’s true, but only just barely.
Just 52% of the Gen Pop report being “somewhat” or “very” familiar with what Title IX is or does. And despite being around for 50 years, this familiarity is largely driven by those 34 and under.
While this may seem surprising to some, it makes sense when considering the avalanche of lawsuits lobbed under Title IX over the last several years, driven by Millenial and Gen Zer athletes tired of noticing the obvious disparities among athletic facilities, opportunities, and overall funding.
This trend is also reflected in overall viewing habits when it comes to women’s sports in general. Close to a quarter of the Gen Pop reports following most of the major sports at least somewhat closely.
But most of that portion of the population also trends young, and in large numbers. The data seems to demonstrate that among young people, women’s sports can be just as popular, and just as closely followed as men’s, when given the same opportunity to foster and grow athletes and opportunities.
When it comes to each individual sport, NCAA basketball is the most popular among the youngest of the Gen Pop (followed by women’s UFC), while the LPGA vastly over-indexes among the oldest (though the data does not include women’s tennis specifically).
Men, as a whole, skew towards watching the LPGA, while women are nearly split between the WNBA, NCAA basketball, and NWSL.
The same three sports are also most popular among those who lean liberal in politics, while conservatives tend to enjoy the LPGA most, followed by other college sports. Moderates, perhaps most interestingly, can’t take a side, and distribute relatively evenly across all women’s sports.
Ultimately, those who are most familiar with Title IX and its importance in women’s collegiate athletics are, unsurprisingly, most likely to follow both the WNBA and NCAA basketball.
It wouldn’t be surprising to see familiarity with Title IX increase as women’s sports continue to grow in popularity. CivicScience will continue to monitor trends as they shift among the youngest populations.