By Kelly Wallace, CNN

(I met Nancy Hogshead-Makar, a three-time Olympic gold medalist in swimming, during a spectacular and inspirational women’s conference last week called Generation W, where I moderated panels on issues affecting women. “This connection with sports and masculinity is a very tough nut to crack. People have been trying to crack it for a long time,” said Hogshead-Makar, who has devoted her career to the advancement of girls and women in sports. Why has coverage of women’s sports stopped post-Olympics? More than 40 years after the enactment of Title IX, a law that says that any school receiving federal funds cannot discriminate based on sex, there are still huge disparities, she said, with men getting $190 million more per year in college athletic scholarships than women. “It’s appalling what these huge differences are. Any fifth-grader can walk into your average high school or college softball baseball facility and say, ‘Duh, that’s not equal.’ “

Hogshead-Makar, who is chief executive officer of the advocacy group Champion Women, said even though Title IX requires that women get the same access to media and support that men get, it’s not happening. “The coupling of sexism and sport, having this be an exclusionary practice, is still a strong one,” said the 1984 Olympic champion. Hogshead-Makar, the former Olympic champion, told me about a case she recently learned about involving dramatically unequal facilities for the women’s softball and men’s baseball teams at a public high school in Indiana. “It tells the baseball players you’re more important,” she said. “That’s equally as unhealthy, as for a girl to hear that she’s not as important as for him to hear that he’s more important.” “When the leadership says, ‘We’re going to make this just as important,’ ” change will come, she said.)

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