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In It for the Long Run: NGWSD Panel Celebrates Title IX and Inspires Continuing Advocacy for Girls in Sports

NWLC Staff and Friends Celebrate NGWSD
NWLC Staff with Cornell McClellan, Grete Eliassen, and Olympians Benita Fitzgerald-Mosley, Nancy Hogshead-Makar, Donna de Varona and Lillian Greene-Chamberlain of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition.

As you all know, yesterday was National Girls and Women in Sports Day (check out all of the awesome blog posts about NGWSD here). As part of the celebration recognizing the strides girls and women have made in athletics since Title IX was enacted in 1972, the Center participated in a panel focused on the importance of physical activity for girls entitled “Title IX at 40: In it For the Long Run.” Panelists spoke of why sports participation is important for girls, including a discussion of how sports improve the position of women in the workforce. They also discussed the High School Athletics Transparency bills currently pending in Congress regarding gender equity in athletic programs.

In addition to the NWLC, several other advocacy groups worked to host the panel. We were joined by Girls Inc., Girl Scouts, the National Association for Women and Girls in Sport and the Women’s Sports Foundation. There were also professional athletes present, including Sarah Hughes, Olympic gold medalist in figure skating. The five panelists gave their speeches to a packed crowd who were eager to hear about the strides girls and women have made in sports and what the next steps are going forward.

Neena Chaudhry, Senior Counsel at the NWLC
Neena Chaudhry, Senior Counsel
at the NWLC.

The first panelist was Cornell McClellan, Personal Trainer to the First Family and member of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition.
Mr. McClellan’s job is to get people excited about physical fitness, so naturally, he motivated the crowd and panelists to get on their feet and participate in a mid-day workout session. Afterwards, he gave a speech revolving around the importance of physical activity for everyone and how participating in sports helps girls gain confidence and do better in school.  

Next was Veronica, an eighth grader from New York City, who shared her experiences with how sports have helped her in school and at home. Her basketball coach was there to support her as well. At the end of her speech, there weren’t many dry eyes in the room and she received a well-deserved standing ovation. Grete Eliassen, Winter X Games Freeskiing Champion and Women’s Sports Foundation member, talked about why she is an advocate for girls’ participation in sports.

Betsey Stevenson, a professor of economics at Princeton University, discussed her research showing how Title IX has not only increased participation for women and girls in sports, but has also improved women’s position in the workforce. She emphasized that Title IX is primarily about equality in elementary and secondary school sports, and that participation in sports puts kids ahead later in life. She ended her dynamic speech by reminding us that not everyone has the same opportunities, and inspired the crowd to consider how much farther we have to go.

Happy Birthday, Title IX!
Happy Birthday, Title IX!

Our own Neena Chaudhry, Senior Counsel for Education and Employment, closed the panel with action for the future. Passing legislation that requires high schools to disclose gender equity in athletics data would help hold schools accountable for providing equal opportunities for boys and girls. Sports are an investment in our future workforce and the well-being of our country. Without Title IX, girls would not be playing sports in schools in the numbers they are today, but without continuing advocacy, we cannot ensure that every student has the same chance to exercise their rights.  

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