You can’t watch a glacier move. You can’t watch the continents shift. You can’t watch a redwood grow.
The big things take a long time to come to fruition. But that doesn’t mean nothing is happening.
The law can be like that, too. Something can be voted on and passed and signed into being, but it might take a while to see what the impact really is.
On Sunday, the whole world saw the impact of one part of one law passed in 1972.
Title IX says, “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.”
Title IX is why the U.S. Women’s National Team won the World Cup for a record fourth time.
Women have always been capable of athletics. That didn’t start in 1972. But that was the year the law said that a school couldn’t say boys were athletes and girls organized the pep rally. It was when boys having an opportunity meant girls had to have one, too.
It laid the groundwork. Nothing changed overnight. Sure, Billie Jean King won her Battle of the Sexes tennis match against Bobby Riggs in 1973. But while that gave girls a role model, it didn’t give them the framework to succeed the way the new law did.
The oldest woman on the USWNT is Carli Lloyd, 36. Title IX was 11 years old when she was born. Maybe you couldn’t see the earth moving, but it was happening slowly.
Penn State alum Ali Krieger didn’t grow up watching her brother play. She was out on the field because the law gave her that right.
While Penn State can’t confirm that she got a scholarship (thanks to a 1974 federal law) they will say that during Krieger’s tenure, the program had 14 scholarship athletes. Those women got scholarships because Title IX said the university couldn’t just give them to football players and wrestlers. The girls had to get a chance to play for their education, too.
The USWNT grew up not just with talent and drive but permission to use them. Little girls had opportunity and ran with it. Big girls honed their skills and watched for their openings. Women scored.
And everyone won because equality is about putting everyone on the same playing field.
It’s still a work in progress. The glacier is still moving, even if we can’t see it. But 47 years after Title IX was passed, the USWNT has shown us how far we have come.