Title IX was initially intended to give women more opportunities in higher education, with access to athletics a mere side effect. By opening the gates to gyms, stadiums and playing fields, however, Title IX changed the way women in America see themselves. Here, in their own words, are what Title IX has meant to athletes, coaches, administrators and league officials.
Sen. BIRCH BAYH, D-Ind., co-author and sponsor of Title IX: The concern I had was you had 53 percent of American people happen to be women, you cant ignore their brain power. If you give a person an education, whether its a boy or girl, young woman or young man, they will have tools necessary to make a life for families and themselves. ... Little girls need strong bodies to carry their minds around just as little boys do. ... I may have put words on the piece of paper, but those who made Title IX come alive are the coaches and the players and the parents. All of them participate in giving their daughters the same opportunities as their sons.
BILLIE JEAN KING, Hall of Fame tennis player, founder of the Womens Sports Foundation and longtime advocate for equality in sports: (Playing sports) empowers you and allows you to understand leadership and supportive roles. You understand how to navigate better in life if youve been in sports. Youre more resilient. ... Title IX was about education, opportunity and equal rights. Any federal funds should be going equally to boys and girls. Its just a no-brainer to me. Its logical. ...
In athletics, because were the most visible, we set the tone. You have to see it to be it. And when theres equality with womens sports, and opportunities, it helps permeate everything else.
DONNA LOPIANO, former CEO of the Womens Sports Foundation who now runs a consulting firm to help high schools and colleges with Title IX compliance, ethics and diversity issues: Most women realize that the impact of Title IX goes well beyond sport. What sport delivers to both women and girls is confidence, a stronger self-image. Its that contribution thats going to have a long-standing impact, just as it has with boys. Developing leaders, developing more confident folks. ...
There is still such a long way to go in terms of participation opportunities. At both the high school and college level, it is a resource problem. ...
ANGELA RUGGIERO, president-elect of the Womens Sports Foundation and member of the 1998 U.S. team that won the first Olympic gold medal in womens ice hockey: Going to the Olympics, getting to attend Harvard and getting a great education, all the things Ive been doing now, Ive been given so many opportunities in life because of sport. ...
Title IX is simply saying we want all kids – boys and girls – to have the same opportunities, whether thats in high school or college, to be educated.
DAVID STERN, commissioner of the NBA: I saw (creating the WNBA) as good business. That womens sports at the collegiate level were going to be increasing, that interest in womens sports would likewise increase. Even if you were a young woman watching a womens sport, or a man watching womens sports, you were more likely to watch all forms of basketball, and that would be good for the NBA. ... I think I didnt develop a complete passion for it until everyone told us it was impossible, and destined to fail. Then I became passionate about it. ... Its a long haul and you need staying power. The WNBA has that staying power.
DEBBIE YOW, athletic director at North Carolina State: The benefits men realized for 100 years in competition, in collegiate athletics, are the same for the women. ...
Do we not feel an obligation to help prepare people for the workplace? A lot of that comes out of athletics. A lot of it does. Thats how good it is. Or how good it can be.
CANDACE PARKER, 2008 WNBA MVP, Olympic gold medalist and first woman to dunk in an NCAA tournament game: Title IX is huge for sports but also its helped move our nation to a place where we can accept women in the workforce as well. Its opened up a lot of jobs for women. We had a female run for president in Hillary Clinton.
MAYA MOORE, 2011 WNBA champion and two-time NCAA champion at Connecticut, where she is the Huskies all-time leading scorer: I couldnt really imagine growing up in a world where someone said, No, you cant play basketball because youre a female, or cant do something else. Its important for us to take a minute and appreciate (the changes). ... Theres just so many ways my life would be different.
GENO AURIEMMA, Hall of Fame basketball coach who has led Connecticut to seven NCAA titles and will coach the U.S. women in London: In the early 70s, when all this came about, I was a senior in high school. The idea of women actually being athletes, female athletes, that wasnt a word that you would use back then. ... Fast forward to Maya Moore. The idea youd think of Maya Moore as something other than a great athlete is just absurd. ... Today, my sons 23. If you ever told him women didnt play basketball or werent great athletes, after all the practices of mine hes watched, hed say to you, What world are you living in?
MUFFET MCGRAW, head coach at Notre Dame, which has made back-to-back appearances in the NCAA title game: Players today expect that its going to be equal. And I think thats a really good thing, that they expect theyre going to be treated the same as the guys. ... Its really amazing how far weve come from the days of driving ourselves to away games. Not having sneaker contracts. Not having per diems.
DANICA PATRICK, NASCAR driver: Its nice that it gives female athletes more opportunities, more sports to play in, more things to do. ... Anytime that people sort of start to put men and women on the same thought level with sports is a positive overall.
PAULA CREAMER, nine-time winner on the LPGA Tour and 2010 U.S. Womens Open champion: There is no question that female athletics is stronger and more advanced today across the board as a result. Golf is for certain. College golf, as well as all womens professional golf tours, have better players and also more depth as a result. ... Young girls are inspired by the many opportunities it presents, and this gleam in their young eyes is a wonderful thing to see.
MEG MALLON, 2013 Solheim Cup captain and four-time major champion, including two U.S. Womens Open titles: I was the first generation that benefited from Title IX. ... The first year of Little League, I played against boys. Seven of us were allowed that very first year because of Title IX, and the boys didnt want to play with us. Now, fast-forward to the 1999 Womens World Cup and you see young boys wearing Mia Hamm jerseys. Its wonderful.
JENNIE FINCH, two-time Olympian in softball and 2004 gold medalist, set NCAA record with 60 straight wins: Its kind of funny because I have two older brothers and I turned out to be the super jock in the family. Im so blessed I had the opportunity to do so and play the game at so many levels and travel the world. ... Its scary to think about the effects long-term (of softball being dropped from the Olympics) and whats going to happen to our sport in eight or 16 years. ... Its so important to educate and share that these opportunities can be taken away if we dont keep pushing and breaking down barriers and fighting.