Up until the time I came to college, my life revolved around basketball. As the youngest of three, I watched my brother and sister play. When my father coached my sister, he brought me along and let me participate in the drills. I could not wait to grow up and be big enough to play on a team. Sports are a fundamental part of our society and are essential to character development. Today is National Girls and Women in Sports Day, and this year marks the 40th anniversary of Title IX, which addresses sexism in public education, including athletics program.
I cannot imagine my life without sports. Playing on a team has taught me crucial life skills that you do not learn in the classroom. Sports introduce children to the concepts of teamwork and a common goal. As they get older, they learn how to respect their coach, teammates, officials, and opposing players. They learn about rules and fairness. They learn how to deal with conflict on and off the court. They see the value of hard work and determination. And most importantly, they have fun.
Playing sports has been a critical component of my life so far. It was the deciding factor when I chose high schools and is the deciding factor for a lot of athletics when choosing a college. Never during my seven years of playing on a school team did I realize the significance of Title IX. Looking back, it saddens me that it took so long for Title IX to happen, almost fifty years after women won the right to vote.
Since the initiation of Title IX, there have been vast improvements in collegiate and high school athletics, however, not nearly enough. Young women in high school still have 1.3 million fewer participation opportunities than their counterparts. Moreover, women are still facing disparity in pay, healthcare, and constitutional equality. While we celebrate National Girls and Women in Sports Day and the 40th anniversary of Title IX, we continue to work for true equality.