We here at Ladies…don’t like getting into politics. The love of sports is supposed to bring people together. Politics, it seems, always drives people apart. We’re stepping away from that policy today for one reason and for one reason only. You see, we here at Ladies…are, well, ladies. We’re ladies who grew up after Title IX passed, and we have, in no small part, Sen. Ted Kennedy to thank for that.
Whether we competed as high school athletes or not (I ran track until the track season started running headlong into the school musical season, and who can resist greasepaint and the roar of the crowd?), it doesn’t matter. We like sports, and we like watching sports, and like knowing that women can excel at sports. Without Title IX, could we have watched Brandi Chastain tear off her shirt after the women’s World Cup championship in ecstatic glee? Without Title IX, could we have watched Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh dominate in two straight Olympic Games? Without Title IX, would we be able to see Venus and Serena mop up the court, match after match? Maybe. Probably not.
Frankly, it’s interesting that most people think of Title IX in terms only of athletics. (Understandably, since most of the challenges under the law have come in the field of athletics.) That’s not all Title IX did, though. In fact, the original statute never even mentioned athletics. It reads “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.” It has been used to ensure equal access to education, and to prevent discrimination against either sex in the classroom. It applies to every aspect of academic life, from your college dorm to your ability to get care at the student health clinic. And ‘you’ means all of you, not just us ladies.
So thank you, Ted Kennedy. We may or may not have agreed with your stances on the issues. We may have voted for you, or we may have campaigned against you. But all of us grew up under Title IX, and for that, as ladies, we thank you.