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Title IX, a section of the Education Amendments, which were changes to the Higher Education Act, as written when signed into law by President Richard Nixon on June 23, 1972:
"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 EDUCATIONAL PROGRAM OR ACTIVITY RECEIVING FEDERAL FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE."
Those 37 words changed the course of education and sports in America.
ESPN kicked off Fifty/50 month in honor of the 50th anniversary of the passing of Title IX
Title IX - the federal civil rights law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in any educational institution that receives federal funding, and gave women the equal opportunity to play. Over the course of this month, ESPN and The Walt Disney company will present content and experiences that explore stories at the intersection of women, sports, culture and the fight for equality. These stories will be integrated across various TWDC platforms in multiple formats, including long-form reporting, documentary storytelling, podcasts, features, vignettes, digital and social.
Highlights from the initiative can be found across The Walt Disney Company and include:
- June 17: FiveThirtyEight looks at which specific women’s sports grew the most in the decade following Title IX and how that has changed to the present day — where is there more room to grow?
- June 18: ABC Owned Television Stations’ Race and Culture Content Team Presents “Our America: Fifty/50” Hosted by Sofia Carson. A collection of eight short documentaries profiling young women and girls associated with the Women Sports Foundation and espnW’s Sports 4 Life Program who are working to level the playing field through athletics and activism. The eight short documentaries will culminate in a 90-minute documentary that will air on Title IX’s 50th anniversary, Thursday, June 23 across ABC Owned Television Stations’ linear broadcast, connected TV apps, Localish Network on Hulu and ESPN+ platforms.
- June 21: “37 Words” Directed by Dawn Porter & Nicole Newnham (Parts 1 & 2). From ESPN Films, Industrial Media, and Trilogy Films, “37 Words” tells the inspiring story of Title IX – the hard-fought battle to push for equal rights in education and athletics; the decades-spanning effort to nullify its impact; and the rippling impacts of the landmark civil rights law that continue to resonate today. Helmed by acclaimed directors Dawn Porter and Nicole Newnham, the four-part series charts the spectacular transformation that 37 words have inspired in American culture and the lives of women, as well as the many ways in which the spirit of this bold law has yet to be fully realized. Premieres June 21, parts 1 & 2, (see below for parts 3 & 4) from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.ET. on ESPN. Each part of the series will be available on ESPN+ and across the Disney Bundle immediately following its premiere.
- Official companion podcast to “37 Words”. Produced in conjunction with the documentary by Allison Glock, Eve Troeh and the ESPN Daily podcast team, the four-episode special series will feature Glock interviewing notable voices in and behind the documentary, including Dawn Porter, Nicole Newnham, and Clare Marash. The podcast episodes will drop concurrently with the documentary and will be available on SiriusXM, Stitcher, Pandora, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, iHeart and wherever podcasts are available.
- June 21: “That’s What She Said” Podcast. Sarah Spain, host of the “That’s What She Said” podcast, will host feature conversations with “37 Words” director and producer Dawn Porter (Tuesday, June 21), as well as World Cup Champion and activist, Abby Wambach (Tuesday, June 28).
- June 22: ESPN Cover Story: Jonquel Jones. When Jonquel Jones arrived in the United States from the Bahamas in 2008 to chase her basketball dream, she promptly got cast down the JV. By 2021, she was the MVP of the WNBA. With a remarkable origin story and arguably the most versatile game the league has seen, why don’t more people know her name? ESPN Cover Story: Jonquel Jones will be available digitally on the ESPN App and social and will also be seen on SportsCenter throughout the week.
- June 23: “SEC Storied: CATCH98 Presented by T-Mobile”. When Tamika Catchings arrived at the University of Tennessee, Pat Summitt had already won five national championships – two of them in the previous two years. Women’s basketball at Tennessee was unequivocally the best in the country, as the 1997-98 Lady Vols made history with a perfect 39-0 record, the most wins ever in women’s collegiate basketball at the time, completing an unprecedented NCAA Championship three-peat. “CATCH98” tells their story through the lens of team member and 2020 Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Tamika Catchings – one of the greatest, and in some ways, unlikeliest to ever play the game. The film explores how Catchings’ childhood shaped her extraordinary persona and the exceptional athlete she has become. In 1997, Catchings was part of a freshman Lady Vols recruiting class that became known as “The Fab Four.” They joined powerhouse upperclassmen Chamique Holdsclaw and current Tennessee head coach Kellie (Jolly) Harper. Some of these legendary teammates gather in their former locker room to reminisce and share never-told-before stories about that truly historic season. Directed by Lisa Lax and Nancy Stern Winters. Debuts June 23 at 7 p.m. ET on SEC Network.
- June 23: “All Access with Pitt Women’s Lacrosse: The Inaugural Season”. In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Title IX, this will be a rare, behind-the-scenes look at the Pitt women’s lacrosse team as it competes in its first official season as an NCAA Division I program. It will look back at the process to start a program after Pitt Athletics Director Heather Lyke announced the university would add women’s lacrosse as a varsity sport on November 1, 2018, and how it culminated February 11, 2022 with the team’s dramatic overtime win in its inaugural game. Debuts June 23 at 7 p.m. ET on ACC Network.
- June 23: “Hidden Dynasty”. In 1979, seven years after Title IX became law, the University of North Carolina launched its varsity women’s soccer program. Since then, and under head coach Anson Dorrance’s leadership, the Tar Heels became a women’s soccer powerhouse and one of the preeminent programs across all of collegiate sports, winning 22 national championships, including nine straight from 1986 through 1994. North Carolina not only built and developed the foundation for collegiate women’s soccer but also produced several incredible individual players who won national player of the year honors and went on to represent the United States on the world stage, winning multiple World Cups and Olympic Gold Medals. Executive produced by Ross Greenburg. Debuts June 23 at 8 p.m. ET on ACC Network.
- June 23: “Pushing Forward: Title IX in the ACC”. A one-hour documentary examining the long-lasting success of athletes within the ACC who have benefited from Title IX and whose impact is still being felt in society to this day. Each ACC school is represented through various sports in a demonstration of how historic moments in conference history continue to have an impact. Directed by Jenna Contreras. Debuts June 23 at 9 p.m. ET on ACC Network.
- June 23: “Giant Killers: The Story of the Lady Longhorns”. One-hour documentary that tells the story of Title IX’s impact on the University of Texas, with a spotlight on its first director of women’s athletics, Donna Lopiano. In 1975, three years after Title IX was passed, Lopiano took on Texas government and fought state legislation (the Tower Amendment) that excluded revenue generating sports – including football – from complying with Title IX. That victory sent ripple effects through Lopiano’s tenure – with the hiring of Jody Conradt and the building of a powerhouse, title-winning women’s basketball program, as well as the shifting of a culture and conversation around women’s athletics. Driven by the spirit of Title IX, Lopiano’s legacy has paved the way for female athletes, on the Forty Acres and beyond. But the work of equality – the work Lopiano has dedicated her life to – is not complete. Debuts June 23 at 10 p.m. ET on Longhorn Network.
- June 24: Fifty50 live podcast event at The Paley Center, Hosted by Julie Foudy. The live podcast event will feature former Women’s Sports Foundation Presidents Phaidra Knight and Angela Ruggiero on the impact of the landmark civil rights legislation in women’s sports and society. Ruggiero won gold in ice hockey at the 1998 Winter Olympics and is CEO of the Sports Innovation Lab. Knight is a Hall of Fame rugby player, current MMA fighter and Founder of PSK Collective. Event will take place June 24th at 5 p.m. ET. Tickets available via The Paley Center.
- June 28: “37 Words” Directed by Dawn Porter & Nicole Newnham (Parts 3 & 4). Premiers from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.ET. on ESPN. Each part of the series will be available on ESPN+ and across the Disney Bundle immediately following its premiere.
More information is available on ESPN.
How You Can Celebrate
The Sports ETA Women's Community encourages you to host a viewing party in your community on June 21 and June 28 for the film "37 Words" - see highlighted dates above. If you have any questions about hosting a viewing party, contact the Women's Community leaders.
We need your help! Sports ETA is celebrating and highlighting stories of female athletes, teams, and coaches from across the nation. Send us a story you'd like to share, the name of a female coach, athlete, team, or initiative you'd like to recognize, photos, videos, or memories! If you'd rather email your information to us, please send to info@SportsETA.org. The collected information can be viewed HERE.
On behalf of the Sports ETA Women’s Community, thank you to all who have contributed to putting together a substantial and meaningful program activation in honor of this important anniversary of Title IX.