By NANCY ARMOUR
AP National Writer
(AP) - Title IX was initially intended to give women more opportunities in higher education, with access to athletics a mere side effect. By opening the gates to gyms, stadiums and playing fields, however, Title IX changed the way women in America see themselves. Here, in their own words, are what Title IX has meant to athletes, coaches, administrators and league officials.
Sen. BIRCH BAYH, co-author and sponsor of Title IX: "The concern I had was you had 53 percent of American people happen to be women, you can't ignore their brain power. If you give a person an education, whether it's a boy or girl, young woman or young man, they will have tools necessary to make a life for families and themselves." ... "Little girls need strong bodies to carry their minds around just as little boys do." ... "I may have put words on the piece of paper, but those who made Title IX come alive are the coaches and the players and the parents. All of them participate in giving their daughters the same opportunities as their sons."
BILLIE JEAN KING, Hall of Fame tennis player, founder of the Women's Sports Foundation and longtime advocate for equality in sports: "(Playing sports) empowers you and allows you to understand leadership and supportive roles. You understand how to navigate better in life if you've been in sports. You're more resilient." ... "Title IX was about education, opportunity and equal rights. Any federal funds should be going equally to boys and girls. It's just a no-brainer to me. It's logical." ... "In athletics, because we're the most visible, we set the tone. You have to see it to be it. And when there's equality with women's sports, and opportunities, it helps permeate everything else."
DONNA LOPIANO, former CEO of the Women's Sports Foundation who now runs a consulting firm to help high schools and colleges with Title IX compliance, ethics and diversity issues: "Most women realize that the impact of Title IX goes well beyond sport. What sport delivers to both women and girls is confidence, a stronger self-image. It's that contribution that's going to have a long-standing impact, just as it has with boys. Developing leaders, developing more confident folks."... "There is still such a long way to go in terms of participation opportunities. At both the high school and college level, it is a resource problem." ... "When you live through that struggle, you don't see the forest for the trees. I don't think anyone could have envisioned the kind of reality we have today. It's hard to envision a future you never had."
ANGELA RUGGIERO, president-elect of the Women's Sports Foundation and member of the 1998 U.S. team that won the first Olympic gold medal in women's ice hockey: "Going to the Olympics, getting to attend Harvard and getting a great education, all the things I've been doing now, I've been given so many opportunities in life because of sport." ... "Sports is a vehicle. To actually be educated. To learn about having self-esteem and being a complete person. To being more self-assured. To understanding their bodies so they don't have bad habits as adult. To understanding how to work in groups." ... "Title IX is simply saying we want all kids _ boys and girls _ to have the same opportunities, whether that's in high school or college, to be educated."
DAVID STERN, commissioner of the NBA: "I saw (creating the WNBA) as good business. That women's sports at the collegiate level were going to be increasing, that interest in women's sports would likewise increase. Even if you were a young woman watching a women's sport, or a man watching women's sports, you were more likely to watch all forms of basketball, and that would be good for the NBA." ... "I think I didn't develop a complete passion for it until everyone told us it was impossible, and destined to fail. Then I became passionate about it." ... "It's a long haul and you need staying power. The WNBA has that staying power."
DEBBIE YOW, athletic director at North Carolina State: "The benefits men realized for 100 years in competition, in collegiate athletics, are the same for the women." ... "Do we not feel an obligation to help prepare people for the workplace? A lot of that comes out of athletics. A lot of it does. That's how good it is. Or how good it can be."
The Galapagos Islands are now just a click away. (Photos)
The Nickelodeon star's antics continue in New York City.
A fallen police officer's daughter gets a swarm of support. (Photos)
Star-studded event raises millions for AIDS research. (Photos)