GW Women's Basketball Participates in Title IX Anniversary Event
June 22, 2012
WASHINGTON - Members of the George Washington women's basketball team celebrated the 40th anniversary of Title IX - the first comprehensive federal law to prohibit sex discrimination in schools - Thursday evening by playing pickup basketball at the U.S. Department of Interior with U.S. government officials and other student-athletes from area high schools and colleges.
Title IX, a portion of the Education Amendments of 1972, states that "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." One of its greatest impacts of was its requirement of equal treatment and opportunity for women in high school and collegiate athletics.
Title IX became law on June 23, 1972. To commemorate the 40th anniversary of the landmark legislation, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan invited female basketball players from local high schools and colleges for an evening of pickup basketball.
"This is one of the unbelievable triumphs in the Civil Rights era and for educational equity," Secretary Duncan said before the event. "That small, small, small change in the law has had this absolutely profound impact on young women - and young men - across the country. To see young girls playing high school sports now 10 times as much, six times as many young women playing at the collegiate level - it's just absolutely staggering the progress we've made."
GW rising senior guard Megan Nipe and graduate student forwards Tara Booker and Brooke Wilson joined women's basketball student-athletes from Georgetown and Howard universities, as well as Woodrow Wilson and Calvin Coolidge high schools.
Also in attendance were U.S. government officials, including Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and Assistant Secretary of Civil Rights Russlyn Ali, as well as Kaya Henderson, the chancellor of D.C. Public Schools; Tina Chen, the executive director of the President's Council for Women and Girls in Sports; Gene Sperling, the director of the National Economic Council whose father tried and won one of the first constitutional cases for the right of a girl to play on a boys' team; and Chamique Holdsclaw, a four-time All-American at Tennessee and a former Washington Mystic.
"This is a great opportunity to bring together a lot of different people who have really benefitted from Title IX," said GW head coach Jonathan Tsipis. "It's a sense of pride; I come from a family where my mom played basketball and didn't have the option of Title IX, but then the next generation, my sister was able to go to college to play because of it. It's just a special situation being here in our nation's capital to be able to be a part of this celebration."
The participants were divided into five teams and played a series of four-minute half-court games. When one player scored, he or she subbed out to give everyone a chance to play.
"This was a great event," Booker said. "It really gave an opportunity for a lot of different generations of women to come together and celebrate 40 years of equality."
"It was an awesome event for GW to be a part of," said assistant coach Megan Duffy, who served as the referee. "We were thrilled to be invited to be around our nation's leaders, past athletes, current athletes who have been affected by Title IX."
After the event, the players and coaches took time to reflect on how their lives have been impacted by Title IX.
"Title IX affected me in so many ways," said Duffy, a former Notre Dame standout. "Just the opportunity to go to school on a full athletic and academic scholarship was tremendous, and the opportunity to play after college, to play professionally - no way if Title IX wasn't passed 40 years ago would I be sitting here today."
Booker echoed her coach's sentiments. "Without Title IX, I wouldn't be here in D.C. playing basketball, the sport that I love, and going to a great college," she said.
"Title IX means an opportunity for success," Wilson added.
"I think that with people my age, we didn't have to experience the struggles pre-Title IX, what they went through in order to achieve this goal," Nipe said. "But we definitely know that we would not have the opportunities that we have or be where we are if Title IX didn't exist."