From its signing in 1972, Title IX has become the backbone for which women’s sports have climbed from decades of inequity and ignorance to the spot they have today.
Particularly for the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic movement, the past decade has seen the biggest names and biggest accomplishments come from the women’s teams. In the TEAMS Conference & Expo/SportsLink/NGB Best Practices Opening General Session, “Title IX at 50: The Push Toward Equality,” the panel discussed the leaps that women’s sports have made in the past 50 years but also what remains to be done in the future for true equality to be achieved.
[Listen to the full discussion on the SportsTravel Podcast]
Leadership in the sports-events industry shows growing advancements for women, but there is still more progress to be made. The Women’s Sports Foundation says that 1 million high school girls miss out on athletic opportunities compared to boys. Disparities that female athletes were subjected to at the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship in 2021 garnered national attention, leading to an external review that found the NCAA overtly prioritized men’s basketball.
Since Title IX, women’s participation in college athletics has increased to 44 percent from 15 percent before the legislation passed. Professional women’s sports leagues have never had more prominence both on television and commercially; on the international scene, U.S. female athletes won 66 medals at the Tokyo Olympics, which would have put them third on the overall medal table, continuing the tradition of females outpacing male U.S. Olympians, who won 41.
Before the opening session, attendees were welcomed to Oklahoma City by Zac Craig, president of Visit OKC. Rocky Harris, chief of sport and athlete services for the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, also took the stage to give an update on the Olympic landscape.
Hilary Knight, Olympian: Knight is an Olympic Gold Medalist, three-time Olympic Silver Medalist, eight-time World Champion and arguably the best female hockey player in the world. An outspoken advocate for gender equality, she is changing the landscape for women in hockey. Knight holds the record for the most all-time points and most goals scored at the Women’s World Championships.
Amanda Kraus, USRowing: Kraus is the CEO of USRowing, the NGB for the sport of rowing in the United States. Prior to her work at USRowing, she was the founder and chief executive officer of Row New York, a nonprofit organization that brings the sport of rowing, paired with rigorous academic support, to youth in NYC. She also works as an adjunct associate professor at New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service.
Linda Logan, Greater Columbus Sports Commission: Logan has served as the chief executive officer and president of the Greater Columbus Sports Commission since its inception in June 2002. Logan has led the Sports Commission to book nearly 600 sporting events that have generated over half a billion dollars in visitor spending. She also worked for the Milwaukee Does of the Women’s Basketball League in the late 1970s, the first women’s professional basketball league in the U.S.
Kaleo Maclay, Paralympian: Maclay is a three-time Paralympic medalist for Team USA’s Women’s Sitting Volleyball Team (two-time gold medalist and one-time silver medalist) with 14-plus years competing at that level. Maclay opened and owns a coffee, bakery and floral shop located in the heart of Oklahoma City called Flower and Flour, as well as a decorated cookie company called Cookies by Kaleo.
Benita Fitzgerald Mosley, Olympian: Mosley is an Olympic gold medalist sprinter and an established international leader in the sports and business sectors. Mosley currently serves as president of the LeagueApps FundPlay Foundation and vice president of community and impact for LeagueApps, a youth sports management technology platform. Mosley previously served as the chief executive officer of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation USA from 2016–2020.
What They Said
Knight: “Girls are having more access to ice time and even priority for ice time, which never happened when I was growing up. I had to play on a boys’ team because there wasn’t another option. So it’s wonderful to see the growth to now having all girls teams. … Whenever we enter a community, we’re very cognizant of our presence in that community and doing activations with local youth. When I was younger growing up just outside Chicago, I was able to go to Cammi Granato’s hockey camp and I wear 21 because of her. So it’s come full circle to now be in a similar position with a platform to inspire the next generation and we take that responsibility seriously.”
Krause: “Each generation of women stands on the shoulders of the women who were ahead of us. Seeing these two (Kaleo and Hilary) shows how successful Title IX has been for the next generation. … When young women participate in sports, you can communicate things to them that nothing else will in terms of the importance of strength as a young woman, using your voice and literally and figuratively taking up space. Sports are a great asset for young women in that sense.”
Logan: “The doors flew open after the Title IX legislation happened. You can be a game changer in your own community, getting girls to come to events and then be exposed to something as exciting as sports. … I would imagine we’re going to start seeing a lot more girls playing hockey in Columbus, thanks in large part to the Ohio State women’s hockey team winning the national championship. I think that’s the best part of the jobs that we have — to be able to host these events and have girls see them up close and personal.”
Maclay: “Getting media coverage is so important because it’s the way people see us play. It’s the way that disabled athletes can see us and know that playing sitting volleyball is even a possibility. … In 2016 we won our first gold medal in Rio and there was a woman who had just had her leg amputated because of cancer who saw us playing on TV in her hospital room. Four years later she was on our gold medal team in Tokyo. So that shows what Title IX and the exposure can do to change a life and inspire people. … The platform the Paralympics have been given and how much it’s grown in the 13 years I’ve been a part of it, has given disabled women a space to compete.”
Fitzgerald Mosley: “Those 37 words were pretty monumental. Every aspect of my life has been affected by sport and everything in my career goes back to Title IX and it’s the gift that keeps on giving. From getting a college scholarship and being able to go to school, to being able to compete on the national and international level. Our sports system is the envy of the world and that’s in large part because of Title IX. The Olympic success our women are having is a trickle-down effect from my generation. If you can see it, you can be it and I think that’s especially true for girls and girls of color.”