What a special afternoon. I went to the White House for the 37th anniversary of Title IX, which is one of the most important pieces of legislation passed in the 20th century.
There was a one-hour round-table session hosted by Valerie Jarrett, President Obama’s senior adviser and confidante, and Arne Duncan, the Secretary of Education. Joining them was the legendary Billie Jean King, leaders from the Women’s Sports Foundation and leaders from the education, science and engineering fields.
Per Wikipedia, Title IX states: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” Although the most prominent “public face” of Title IX is its impact on high school and collegiate athletics, the original statute made no reference to athletics.
Since I’m a sports person, that’s the part I’m focused on. I helped invite a few of the sports leaders that were in attendance y-day. I’m a strong supporter of women in athletics, the WNBA and the new women’s pro soccer league. As one who tries his best to support diversity, I think it’s remarkable to see the increased number of girls and women participating in a wide range of sports from all age groups.
With our increased focus on healthcare costs and helping reduce obesity, the issue of health and fitnesss will continue to be a critical issue in the coming years. So, if we can continue to put the spotlight on the importance of Sports and Health / Fitness, the country will be better off.
This is difficult to believe but yesterday was the first time that Title IX was ever celebrated at the White House. Ms. Jarrett said this will become a regular occurrence and that we’ll be celebrating the 38th anniversary of this important legislation a year from now at the White House.
My kudos to the trailblazers and champions of women’s sports, such as Billie Jean King and Donna de Varona who showed us the way. Thanks to their courage, vision and dedication, it’s a more level playing field now for female athletes from youth leagues to high schools to colleges to the professional leagues. There’s still a long way to go, but we’re moving in the right direction.