President Obama and his staff “get it” when it comes to women’s sports. First, they held the first-ever celebration of the anniversary of the important Title IX legislation at the White House last month. Then, this afternoon, they hosted and honored the 2008 WNBA Champion, Detroit Shock.
It was hot on the White House lawn this afternoon as the President honored the team. The WNBA President, Donna Orender (she’s a rock star) as well as their previous coaches, Bill Laimbeer and Rick Mahorn, were also recognized by the President. The POTUS made a funny remark about honoring the former Pistons (who were rivals of his favorite team, the Chicago Bulls).
The looks on the faces of the Shock players was terrific — smiling and beaming. I talked to a couple of the players after the ceremony — Katie Smith, Cheryl Ford and Kara Braxton. They were all so happy and delighted to be recognized by President Obama. They were not honored at the White House after they won the championship in ’06.
The other important item that the administration does extremely well when they honor sports team is tie in a community service project or partner. They did this when they honored the Super Bowl Champion, Pittsburgh Steelers, at an event in May (the US military was their partner for that event). For today’s event, they worked with a couple of the local youth groups. The kids were absolutely beaming as they got to walk on the White House lawn as well as sit closely to watch and listen as the President honored the team. Earlier in the day, the team visited with a couple of the youth organizations in Washington, DC (which I’m sure was a thrill for the children).
After attending the Title IX (equality in women’s sports) celebration at the White House last month, I blogged about how wonderful it is to see women’s sports continue to get more and more recognition and visibility. It’s amazing to see the strides that have occurred over the past couple of decades. The WNBA has been around for over 12 years … the LPGA is fighting some sponsorship issues but they continue to do fairly well … the women’s tennis tour is doing quite well … and after the previous women’s pro soccer league went out of business, the new Women’s Professional Soccer league is fully up and running.
It no doubts help that the President and First Lady have two young daughters who like and enjoy sports. The President is obviously a huge sports fan (great move having him participate at the MLB All-Star Game) and the First Lady’s brother is the head basketball coach at Oregon State University.
As recently as the 70’s and 80’s, a lot of women and girls did not have the opportunity to play and participate in Sports. But, thanks to Title IX and to many different trailblazers, it’s now a whole different ballgame. All one has to do is look around … women’s sports is thriving … from youth leagues to high schools to colleges and to the aforementioned professional women’s sports leagues. This is wonderful to see. I’ll post some pictures of today’s event on Facebook. Just look at all of the smiles in the pictures. Today’s event was surely a home run … make that a slam dunk!