AIAW vs. NCAA
Just as there were different ideologies of men’s and women’s competition, there were differing ideologies of the NCAA and AIAW. Women’s sports had long been known to follow the ideology of “Sports for all,” in which participants can enjoy the thrill of competition despite the level of skill and ability (Wushanley, 11). The “Sports for all” ideology allows for everyone to play and no one is excluded based on strength and skill level. Every individual counts. The image above is of the 1911 yearbook at the Harrisonburg Normal School that outlines the athletic events of the year. Events included everyone, including faculty, showing that sports were emphasized for all in the early days of women’s sports. In its formation, the AIAW had this ideology in mind. One of the main purposes of the AIAW, as laid out in the 1975 handbook, was, “To assist member schools in extending and enriching their programs of intercollegiate athletics for women based upon the needs, interests, and capacities of the individual student” (AIAW, 16) The emphasis on the individual and the efforts for everyone to join despite natural ability exemplifies women’s sports and the AIAW.
Men’s sports, represented by the NCAA, took a different approach, as shown by a number of factors. Most of the early goals of the NCAA were to protect the amateurism of college sports. The NCAA was adopted to answer the need for regulation in college sports to avoid exploitation and to make sure that competition was even (Falla,ix). Early on the NCAA begins to exclude people because of different levels of talent. Later on the focus of the NCAA was to make money, which included television deals and other moneymaking ideals. The NCAA signed a deal in 1969 in which ABC would pay the NCAA $12 million per year for the years of 1970 and 1971 (Falla, 116). Because of the moneymaking and regulation, the NCAA did not adopt the policy of “Sports for all,” but instead transformed from a regulation organization to a moneymaking organization. The focus was more on the schools than the individual players, leading to increased competition for the schools to land the better players. It also caused tension for the players because they had to be their best at all times, both on and off of the court. Sports became more of a job than a fun and healthy activity.
With the rise of the AIAW and its own break into the television market, the NCAA began to view the AIAW as a threat to its domination of college sports. Also, with the rise of Title IX, the legal counsel at the NCAA began to steadily remind the Association Council that as the NCAA rules were currently written in 1971, the NCAA did not differentiate between men’s and women’s sports, meaning that there soon may be lawsuit against the NCAA to provide funding for female student athletes, just as it did for male athletes (Falla, 163-164). In 1975 the Association Council proposed that men’s and women’s organizations be under the same heading, the NCAA, arguing that if they were not all a part of the same organization that the NCAA could not live up to its own rules in providing for all college athletes (Falla, 165). On January 13, 1981 a voting was held in which both men’s and women’s sports would be accounted for under the NCAA banner. By a vote of 383 to 168, the measure to include both men and women in the NCAA was passed (Falla, 173).
Since the merger, many more programs and funding have been made available to women, through mandates from Title IX and money made from television and sponsorship deals. It seems as though women’s sports has become assimilated into the hypercompetitive nature of men’s sports. One thing for sure is that women now have many more opportunities to play college sports because of the extra revenue and laws.
AIAW Handbook-Directory 1975-1976. Washington, D.C., 1975.
Falla, Jack. NCAA: The Voice of College Sports. Mission, Kansas: National Collegiate Athletic Association, 1981.
Schoolma’am. Harrisonburg: Harrisonburg Normal School, 1911.
Wushanley, Ying. Playing Nice and Losing: The Struggle for Control of Women’s Intercollegiate Athletics, 1960-2000. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2004.