A Blog Ambassador Reflects on Equality in Sports
Throughout the year we'll hear from eight bloggers as they share about their family's time in the Riley Children’s Health Sports Legends Experience® and how it inspires them to explore these sports back at home.
Over forty years have passed since President Richard Nixon signed Title IX into law, making it illegal to exclude a person from participating in any educational program or activity at a public or private school receiving federal financial assistance. The law means girls were finally given the same opportunity to play sports that boys had enjoyed for decades.
In the 1970s, my mom played on her high school’s first girls’ basketball team. Girls were taught to shoot underhanded, with the ball starting between their legs and then hoisting it up, because it was inconceivable that females could have the upper body strength to shoot like the boys.
In the 1990s, I played on my high school girls’ basketball team, following in the footsteps of lots of Hoosier girls before me who spent long, humid Indiana summers playing basketball with boys.
Now as my own daughters grow and learn about basketball and other sports available to them, they have no frame of reference for the lack of opportunities older female generations had. They don’t remember the struggles to be allowed to play with the same intensity or energy of their male classmates. It’s unimaginable at one time they might only have been able to cheerlead for the boys.
I take my girls to The Children’s Museum for lots of reasons: to have fun, to learn, to burn off steam, to make a mess at someone else’s house instead of mine, to cure stir-craziness, to avoid boredom. But I also take them to the museum to appreciate. To appreciate what they have, to appreciate what their bodies were made to do, to appreciate the women who came before them, to appreciate their strength.
They learn about Tamika Catchings and how her relentless work ethic impacted women’s basketball.
They explore tennis and Barbara Wynne’s passion that changed our city.
They understand the power of creativity when they play on golf courses Alice (and her husband, Peter) Dye dreamed and built.
They hear about Wilma Rudolph and the overwhelming odds she overcame to do what she loved.
I take my girls to The Children’s Museum to appreciate where we have been and where we are going. Where are we going? We are going to soccer fields and basketball courts. We are going to tracks and stadiums. We are going wherever the boys go.
Title IX revolutionized the way girls came to school. Suddenly, it wasn’t about homemaking and writing and supporting men, but it was about strength and opportunity and equality. My daughters, only seven and nine, are growing up in a world full of options and freedom past generations only dreamed about. And when we visit the sports experience at The Children’s Museum, we can remember those who’ve paved the road for us and dream about what’s to come.