June 23rd marked the 50th anniversary of the passing of Title IX. Although the law was not specifically created to address inequities in athletics, Title IX has, in fact, had a major impact on women’s sports over the last five decades. From massive increases in girls’ participation in youth sports to the creation of leagues like the WNBA and NWSL, it’s hard to imagine a world without Title IX. It seemed only appropriate to hear the perspectives of players from the longest tenured women’s professional sports league, the WNBA.
“The fact that we’re talking about it means there’s still work that needs to be done, but it’s important that we uphold the legacy of those that came before us. There’s still so much we can do, but I’m proud to be part of the legacy,” said 2016 WNBA MVP and current president of the WNBPA (players’ association), Nneka Ogwumike of the Los Angeles Sparks.
Olympic gold medalist and 2021 WNBA Champion Stefanie Dolson of the New York Liberty, shared, “It’s the reason we’re able to play the sport that we love, right? To be able to kind of continue that. Every day, we wake up, and we get to play basketball and that’s our job. I’m really happy that happens.”
The league leader in assists and 2019 WNBA Champion Natasha Cloud of the Washington Mystics said, “I wouldn’t be where I am today without Title IX. Whether it was high school or college, being able to get a degree and the same opportunities and resources that the men got, or coming into the W. This is what we’re still fighting for. It’s equality and equity across the board. I’m super thankful for not only Title IX, but the women that pushed for it that came before me.”
One of those women is sports icon Ann Meyers Drysdale, who was the first woman to receive an athletic scholarship to UCLA and receive a contract from an NBA team, the Indiana Pacers. She also commentated the very first WNBA game. Currently, she is the vice president of the Phoenix Suns and the Phoenix Mercury as well as a Mercury broadcaster.
Meyers Drysdale offered advice for the next generation of girls in sport. “Like anything, you’ve got to continue to enjoy what you do and have fun. It’s always about having fun whether it’s sports or anything else. Don’t look back, and say what if, woulda, coulda, shoulda. … Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It’s courage that counts.”