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It was 50 years ago on Thursday, June 23, that Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 was passed into law. That act changed the trajectory of women's athletics and will continue to shape the future of them.
The 37 words of Title IX prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex in federally funded education programs and activities. It took years after the passage of the law for it to begin to take hold, but it eventually led to the rise of collegiate women's athletic programs and professional leagues. But while there has been great progress, there is also a long way to go.
This month leagues, athletes and leaders have honored the 50th anniversary of the law. Here is more on Title IX, women's sports to watch on Thursday, and how the sports world is celebrating the anniversary this weekend.
What to read on Title IX
From Yahoo Sports:
As the only woman coaching youth basketball, here's why Title IX still has more to give the next generation — Yahoo Sports writer Cassandra Negley's first-person essay on coaching youth basketball and her hopes for the next 50 years.
Counting men as women? Inside the fuzzy math of Title IX compliance — Athletic departments often increase women's rowing rosters, double and triple count female athletes, and count male practice players to make it look like they're following Title IX guidelines.
Bill would strengthen Title IX in sports, threaten consequences for noncompliance — Senator Chris Murphy and Rep. Alma Adams introduced the "Fair Play for Women Act" on Thursday. It would extend the law's application to college conferences and the NCAA, rather than only individual schools.
After 50 years, Title IX compliance in college sports still lags. The reason? 'It has no teeth' — Gender gaps remain wide because the two route to justice are through the federal government or lawsuits. That's a big ask for a high school or college student.
"Forgotten" women's hoops pioneers describe what's lost if Title IX goes away — Two Title IX era players who help run "Legends of the Ball" worries what happens if fans continue to forget the game's history. Is there a future where we forget Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi?
Women's sports to watch for Title IX anniversary
Basketball/WNBA (Thursday): Minnesota Lynx at Phoenix Mercury (8 p.m., CBS Sports Network), Seattle Storm at Washington Mystics (10 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network), Los Angeles Sparks at Chicago Sky (10:30 p.m. ET, WNBA League Pass)
Softball/Athletes Unlimited AUX (Thursday): Team Zerkle vs. Team O'Toole (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2), Team Fischer vs. Team O'Toole (9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2) — These games were previously scheduled for ESPNU and moved to ESPN2 on Thursday afternoon.
Tennis/Wimbledon qualifiers (Thursday)
Women's Sports Foundation hosting Meyers Taylor in DC
The Women's Sports Foundation (WSF) is hosting events with the U.S. Department of Education and Democratic Women's Caucus in Washington, D.C. on Thursday to give girls ages 8-14 an opportunity to try new sports and hear from champion athletes and leaders on Title IX. The event is part of the foundation's work to keep increasing opportunities, particularly after its research report found girls still have fewer opportunities than boys.
“It’s great to see everyone celebrating this essential legislation and the progress made over the last 50 years, yet we cannot take Title IX for granted,” said Danette Leighton, WSF CEO. “As transformational as the law has been, the full promise of Title IX has not yet been met for many girls and women across our nation; we still have work to do. It’s vital for everyone — especially younger generations — to understand their rights to equal access and opportunity. That’s at the heart of this important law, which needs to be fully enforced and protected to reach equity.”
Those in attendance at the event, which will include a livestreamed briefing, includes three-time Olympic ice hockey medalist Meghan Duggan, 29-time Paralympic swimming medalist Jessica Long, and five-time Olympic bobsledder medalist Elana Meyers Taylor, the most decorated Black athlete in Winter Olympics history.
WNBA, AU softball break out T-shirts
WNBA teams and coaches began wearing "50 years of Title IX" T-shirts in warm-ups and on the sidelines this week.
The WNBA announced on Wednesday it would also honor the anniversary by partnering with Her Time To Play (HTTP), an initiative to make the game of basketball fun and accessible while also increasing participation, retention and development among girls ages 7-17. All 12 teams and the league will select 50 organizations to receive participation kits that include items like sports bra, hair ties, athletic socks, WNBA hats and T-shirts.
Athletes Unlimited AUX Softball players will also commemorative jerseys with the roman numeral "IX" on their backs for the final series of the fantasy-like league.
Ahead of the AU doubleheader on Thursday that will air on ESPNU, nine Little League players from Pachappa Little League in Riverside, California, will throw out the first pitch. AU will also welcome and recognize Southern California softball legends Sue Enquist (11-time national champion as UCLA player and coach) and Stacey Nuvemen-Deniz (three-time Olympic medalist with Team USA). The games are being held at San Diego State University, where Nuveman-Deniz is currently head coach.
Twitter hosts series of Spaces to highlight change
It will begin at 1:05 p.m. ET with "Women in Sports Media, Covering Women's Sports" featuring ESPN's Elle Duncan, Sarah Spain, Holly Rowe and LaChina Robinson. ESPN is hosting the chat.
There will be two "fireside chats." The first is at 1:45 p.m. ET with "Women Changing the Political Game" and the second at 2:30 p.m. with "Women of NASA: Past, Present and Future."
The WNBA will host the final chat title "26 Years of the WNBA ... What's Next?" at 3:05 p.m. ET. It will feature Bleacher Report's Ari Chambers, Stetson University assistant coach and former WNBA player Barbara Farris, former WNBA player and coach Sylvia Crowley, and vice president of the Phoenix Mercury and Suns Ann Meyers.
According to Twitter, the conversation around gender equality in sports rose 7% year-over-year on its platform. The average number of tweets about NCAA women's sports has grown 127% over the past five years, per the site.
Big Ten hosting first Women's Leadership Summit
The Big Ten conference is hosting its first Women's Leadership Summit, a first for the organization, in concert with the Title IX anniversary.
Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren said in a release the event will bring together "some of the most exceptional women in collegiate athletics and underscores the mission of the Big Ten Conference to elevate women's sports."
“This event is a celebration of the 50th anniversary of Title IX and a reflection of our unwavering commitment to delivering transformational educational experiences and growth opportunities to our student-athletes.”
ESPN's Sarah Spain will deliver opening remarks to more than 75 student-athletes, coaches and administrators from the 14 schools. The attendees will have opportunity to network, learn and meet mentors. Guest speakers will cover the history of the law as well as trailblazers in women's athletics. They include Jackie Joyner-Kersee (four-time Olympian), Tierra Davidson (World Cup champion, Chicago Red Stars), Katrina Adams (former professional tennis player and CEO of the United States Tennis Association) and Jennifer King (assistant running backs coach, Washington Commanders).