Female athletic opportunities were limited prior to 1972. Society did not encourage women to participate in competitive sports. Women did not have the chance for team competition and few individual sports accepted them as participants. Before the 1928 Olympics, women participated in only genteel sports—lawn tennis, golf, swimming, and equestrian. Texan Mildred Ella “Babe” Didrikson Zaharias helped shatter the notion that women could be serious athletes. Competing in track and field during the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles, she won three medals—two gold and one silver. Afterward she became a professional golfer (playing Fort Worth links often) who broke the accepted models of femininity of her era, including the accepted models of female athleticism.
Despite the Civil Rights advances, gender equity improved very little until the U.S. Congress passed Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. This act required gender equity for boys and girls in every educational program (not just athletics) that receives federal funding. Administered by the Office for Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Education, Title IX is best known for its impact on high school and collegiate athletics even though the original statute made no explicit mention of sports.