Hello, and welcome to another edition of the Inside The Newsroom podcast newsletter. Today’s guest is Christine Brennan, author, columnist and commentator for USA Today, CNN, ABC, NPR and PBS. Christine’s approaching 40 years covering sports, and has thus seen the rise of women’s sports from the front row, and had some strong comments on the recent World Cup win for the U.S. soccer team. We also got into the “clash” between Megan Rapinoe and Mr. Trump. An hour wasn’t enough to discuss the entire history of women’s sports, so below is essential reading for further context and understanding of the history of women’s sports in America. Enjoy!
He Dunnit Again
The U.S. women’s national soccer team won its second straight World Cup earlier this month, making them one of the most dominant sports teams ever. Since 1991, the team has won four World Cups and four Olympics gold medals. As usual, Trump made it about himself by telling Rapinoe to “WIN” before she “TALKS”. It’s as if he never learns…
Unfortunately for Donald, Megan and the U.S. did win — Rapinoe led the way as co-captain and won the Golden Boot with six goals — which gave her the permission to talk that she was looking for. She took her talents to CNN instead of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to deliver her new bestie a stark, yet optimistic message…
Nike Nets New Record
The USWNT weren’t the only winners of the World Cup as Nike announced that “the USA Women’s Home jersey is now the No. 1 soccer jersey, men’s or women’s, ever sold on Nike.com in one season”. Nike’s president and CEO, Mark Parker, made the statement during an earnings call before the semi-final win against England (booo!), so at $90 a piece, God only knows how much Nike will end up making.
Equal Pay. Now.
Speaking of money, the success at the World Cup once again brought the national discussion back to paying men and women equally. As if we’re still having to have the debate. Here’s Christine on what’s next in the fight for equal pay.
So How Did We Get Here?
Rarely do I speak anecdotally, but in my experience, far more women play and follow sports in the U.S. than in the UK. Why is that? Because of Title IX, a federal law signed in 1972 that states:
"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 receiving Federal financial assistance."
Simply put, without Title IX, today’s newsletter wouldn’t be a thing.
And Who Shaped Title IX?
Patsy T. Mink. Edith Louise Starrett Green. Birch Bayh. Bernice R. Sandler. Donna Lopiano. David and Myra Sadker. Benita Miller. Billie Jean King.
Battle of the Sexes
The most well-known of those names is Billie Jean King, 12-time tennis Grand Slam winner. In 1973, a year after Title IX was signed into law and just getting off the ground, King silenced the growing number of critics by defeating Bobby Riggs in front of a sold-out Astrodome in Houston. King beat Riggs in straight sets in front of a TV audience estimated at 90 million, in what was another mammoth milestone for women.
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Title IX Isn’t About Just Sports
While sports gets the most attention, Title IX essentially bans discrimination of any kind based on gender. Another important area where the law has helped has been sexual abuse and harassment on college campuses, a pervasive problem that has ravaged many schools. Sadly, not all states feel the same. Earlier this year, Republican lawmakers in Missouri stripped certain aspects of Title IX to give more power to those accused of sexual abuse case. There’s still a long way to go. Sigh.
The Sports Bra Seen Around the World
Let’s finish on a positive. It’s been 20 years since the U.S. soccer team won its first World Cup, meaning it’s been two decades since one of the most iconic images in the history of sports. After a heart-wrenching penalty shoot out, Brandi Chastain scored the winning kick and did what any of us would do in that situation and took her top off. The significance of that moment is very much still being felt today.
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