INDIANAPOLIS, IN—The Indiana Fever game on Thursday night against the Connecticut Sun was anything but ordinary. The Fever put on a show, winning 95-61 and set a team record with 15 three pointers made. They played inspired basketball in what amounted to a night about more than the game. There were multiple ceremonies and interviews throughout the evening celebrating the upcoming fortieth anniversary of Title IX.
Title IX is part of the education amendments of 1972 that radically changed the way women are viewed and treated in the classroom and in athletics.
The famous words that changed so many lives and allowed for the Fever players to fulfill their dreams 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."
In athletics this forced the creation of athletic programs for girls and has allowed for growth of women in amateur and professional sports.
There was a ceremony before the game featuring Title IX trailblazers and pioneers including the "Father of Title IX" former Indiana Senator Birch Bayh. Bayh was the first person to introduce Title IX to Congress and was its head author and Senate sponsor. He was honored on the court before the start of the game and received a plaque depicting his instrumental role in Title IX.
"The whole intention of Title IX was to give young women the opportunity to use their God given talents, whether it's in their brains or bodies to accomplish what they want to do in life," said Bayh.
Ann Meyers Drysdale, vice president and former general manager of the Phoenix Mercury, was also one of the honorees in the pre game ceremony. Meyers Drysdale, who is famed for earning a three day tryout with the Indiana Pacers, participated in a mid court interview during halftime. She is one of many women who realize their lives were altered dramatically with the creation of Title IX.
"The Title IX anniversary means so much to so many women that not only were there when in passed in 1972, but even the women before then, " she said. "The fact that we have a WNBA league and young girls can look and dream to be a professional athlete, it starts with Title IX."
When Title IX was first created, a professional women's basketball league was far from the reason. Girls in school simply deserved the opportunity to be treated equally in the classroom and have the opportunity to compete in athletics with the same equipment and accessibility as men. It has evolved in a multitude of ways and opened doors that may never have been imagined.
Also in attendance was WNBA President Laurel J. Richie. Richie was beaming with pride as she took in the ceremonies. To see all that has been done and how the WNBA has developed into a legitimate professional league is thrilling for everyone involved.
"When you listen to the stories of the beginning and the World pre Title IX you realize just how significant it was," said Richie.
It was a memorable night for women, the Fever, and athletics in general. Seeing and truly understanding the progress over the last forty years is deeply gratifying for all those involved and the millions who will continue to benefit from Title IX.