Last week’s 11 Random Exercise Facts about Me combined with the upcoming Mother’s Day observance this weekend, got me thinking about the differences between my mother and me when it came to exercise. Most of the difference came courtesy of Title IX.
I was just the right age to see the impact of Title IX. In my first two years of high school, the only interscholastic sports I could play were basketball and track. I tried basketball my freshman year (I sucked) and no one ever suggested that I try track.
Volleyball came along when I was a Junior in high school because the schools needed a fall sport for girls when the boys had football. I had just enough skill, in a sport that we were all learning from scratch, to be an asset to my team in volleyball. The team appreciated me most, it must be said, on pep rally days. Someone had to represent the team at the mic in front of the whole school — leave it to the egghead. Aside from my ability to memorize a short speech, I didn’t have a reputation for coolness to protect.
Looking at one year of basketball and two years of volleyball (but I didn’t play the second year due to injury), it doesn’t seem like much. But it was everything. My brain had the concept, from a young age, that women exercised and played sports. My mother still wrestled with that concept when I was playing. She was careful to not let her prejudices limit what I did, but I witnessed the struggle sometimes. The most visible, although I didn’t fully understand it at the time, was her insistence that I wear a skirt on the aforementioned pep rally days when I stood in front of the whole school.
With that early experience behind me, I’ve almost always had some form of exercise in my life — even when I was overweight. As an adult, I took exercise classes (aerobics in a variety of styles, yoga, stretching), played racquetball and softball, swam, ran, walked, hiked, snowshoed. All things my mother didn’t do or think to do. When she had aches and pains, she rested and went to doctors and took pills. When I have aches and pains, I try to figure out what movement is lacking or being overdone — and I almost always work out a solution. What a great tool!
Title IX passed in 1972, but it took a few years to work its way into the form we think of it today — volleyball showed up at my high school in 1978. How has Title IX effected you? Do you see differences between yourself and your mother when it comes to the role of physical activity in your lives?
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