Ottawan Kearsten Peoples beat her own record for shot put by more than 10 inches throwing this weekend on behalf of the University of Missouri — beating the school’s own record at 17.65 meters and earning a runner-up spot — at the Big 12 Track & Field Championships at the R.V. Christian Track Complex at Kansas State University in Manhattan.

Peoples, a freshman, is one of many young women who are benefiting from their athletic prowess to help put them through college. It would be easy for Peoples and other women today to take this opportunity for granted because they’ve never known a time when women couldn’t compete right alongside their male counterparts in the competitive sports arena.

That hard-fought right came into being nearly 40 years ago with the passage of Title IX.

Title IX was a civil rights law, passed in 1972, mandating boys and girls get equal educational opportunities — including sports — at schools receiving federal funding. Since the law’s passage, girls participation in sports has increased 1,079 percent. No doubt, girls participation in sports during the past four decades also has better prepared them for working as a team, through lessons of shared sacrifice, increased self-discipline, how to win and lose and the benefits of hard work. Such experiences also foster good physical fitness and health habits.

It is unfortunate it took a change in the law for society to do the right thing and treat both genders equally, but it wasn’t the first time changes in norms were driven by legislation.

Today, women who were athletes in their youth credit skills they learned on the field of play for their success in the workplace, at home and within their communities.

Peoples finished behind NCAA Indoor National Champion Tia Brooks, University of Oklahoma junior. Just think how much harder Peoples will be working to earn first place in the next competition. Those are skills that aren’t taught in the classroom, but they helped Peoples and other women earn a place in the academic setting too. Clearly, Title IX has done its part to help prepare young women for life inside and outside of the classroom.

— Jeanny Sharp, editor and publisher