By Donna Krache, CNN
(CNN) – The year was 1972. “M*A*S*H,” “Sanfordand Son” and “Kung Fu” were reasons to stay home and watch TV. Roberta Flack had the number one song on the radio with “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.” Don McLean drove his Chevy to the levee and sang goodbye to Miss “American Pie.”
The women’s liberation movement was in full swing, but in schools there were huge educational discrepancies between the genders, both in the kinds of classes they took and in the kinds of extracurricular activities they took part in.
That year, there were only 30,000 girls in the U.S. participating in high school sports.
Today there are more than 3 million.
Listen to CNN's Edgar Treiguts' interview Ann Meyers Drysdale, a former UCLA basketball star and Olympian, and executive of men's and women's professional basketball teams in Phoenix.
Changes came about in large part because of a law known as Title IX.
When President Richard Nixon signed the bill into law on June 23, 1972, it was intended to level the playing field between girls and boys in the educational opportunities that were presented to them. Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 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 education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance."
The law set out to prevent sex discrimination and harassment in any education activity or program, whether public or private. It covers a wide range of areas, including fairness in college admissions and financial aid, freedom to take any vocational courses (so boys can take what was once called “home ec” and girls can take wood shop) and providing education for pregnant students.
Yet Title IX is most associated with sports because of its impact on high school and college sports for young women. Under the law, “The athletic interests and abilities of male and female students must be equally and effectively accommodated.”