American women shine in London

It was an impressive showing for the American women at the London 2012 Summer Olympics as they claimed 29 of 46 gold medals earned by the United States. This was the first time in history the number of participating American women athletes eclipsed the men. The comparisons do not end there.

The women’s team showings were impressive, especially when compared to the men. The woman’s soccer team earned another gold medal, while the men failed to even qualify for the London games. The women’s volleyball team collected a silver while their counterparts failed to medal.

In other team events, the fairer sex won gold in water polo while the men failed to reach the medal round after a promising preliminary. The Fierce 5 of women’s gymnastics collected the gold in addition to Gabby Douglas’ gold in the all-around, clearly outperforming the men, who had a lone bronze medal to show for their efforts. Only in swimming did the men compete on a par with the women.

In individual events, women collected gold medals in cycling, judo, boxing and tennis. In beach volleyball, the American women won both a gold and a silver as the dynamic duo of Kerry Walsh-Jennings and Misty May-Treanor, both in their mid-30s, won their third consecutive championship. Their competitive spirit is truly a pleasure to watch in action.

Why all the success? I think it goes back to Title IX. The federal legislation, passed to rectify the imbalance between men’s and women’s programs in athletics, certainly has its flaws, but it clearly opened the door for broader participation in sports at the collegiate level.

Back in my high school days in the early 1960s, the only women’s sport played at my 5A high school in Houston was volleyball. It didn’t have much of a following. I learned later that basketball and track were highly successful outside the state’s metropolitan areas.

Soccer, golf, softball and powerlifting were added later, all of which led to the increased participation of female athletes. One can rest assured that millions of young girls, after watching this year’s Olympics, will be dreaming to become the next Missy Franklin, Destinee Hooker, Douglas or Hope Solo.

Now for a few comments and observations.

First of all, congratulations to silver medalist Leonel Manzano, a 2004 Marble Falls High School graduate, for his second-place finish in the 1,500-meter run. I look forward to seeing what an Olympic medal looks like up close. Next, I want to commend the British for hosting an outstanding Olympics.

Finally, what I appreciate most about these gifted athletes is their humility. Their work should speak for themselves. USIA Bolt, the Jamaican sprinter and winner of gold medals in the 100- and 200-meter dashes, is a gifted athlete. He has no peer on the track; however, I find his self-promotion and ego unsettling.

I much prefer the charm and grace of teenage-sensation Franklin, who won four gold medals and one bronze, but was anxious to get home to Colorado and see her dog, visit her friends and start school.

Laughlin is a Christian Libertarian. He is an economist, teacher, father, husband and most recently a grandfather. He has written a weekly column for The Tribune for 13 years. He and his wife Gina reside in Meadowlakes. To contact him, email ablaughlin@nctv.com. He is an independent columnist, not a staff member, and his views do not necessarily reflect those of The Tribune or its parent company.

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