When I was in middle school, I had to write a paper about important legislation in U.S. history. All I really wanted to do was write about sports. I thought creatively, followed the assignment and decided to learn more and write about Title IX.

Now, as our country celebrates the 50th anniversary of Title IX and what it has done for women’s sports, I can reflect on how far we have come. I remember learning about President Nixon signing Title IX into law in 1972. I remember writing about Billie Jean King beating Bobby Riggs in the Battle of the Sexes. When I was writing the paper, I remember thinking about sports from a different lens; through the eyes of a female athlete.

To this day, I continue to see sports through that same lens, especially as a proud #GirlDad. I support my daughter and other female athletes to have equal opportunities as men.

The 50th anniversary of Title IX was June 23, but let’s not just celebrate one day and move on. Instead, I encourage you to be part of the movement. Now is the perfect time to think about sports through the lens of a female athlete.

Think about this, the same generation that sat in front of their television screens watching the 1999 U.S. national women’s soccer team win the World Cup on national TV are now excelling in college sports and professional leagues, including the WNBA, WSL, LPGA, PHF and so many more.

I find it fitting that more than 20 years after Brandi Chastain scored her infamous goal, the U.S. national women’s soccer team is again leading the way for more change. This time, not only on the field, but in a competition for equality, with equal pay for equal work. Now young girls aren’t just seeing talented athletes competing on the biggest stage, they are seeing behind the curtain, and the work that still needs to be done.

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As more female athletes continue to be trailblazers, name, image and likeness (NIL) opportunities at the high school, college and professional level will chart a new course for female athletes. NIL opportunities will lead to more female athletes sharing their stories, using their voice across several platforms, including social media, to show the world what women’s sports is all about. NIL will also provide more exposure for young girls to build an affinity for female role models and increase the popularity of women’s sports.

I have already seen the passion for increasing the popularity of women’s sports from two of Maine’s top female athletes, Kaylyn and Alyssa Bourque from Benton, Maine. Kaylyn is one of the top high school hockey players in New England. She has built her athlete brand, including an amazing recruitment video on YouTube.

Alyssa competes on the track and field team at the University of Vermont. Alyssa is already working on NIL partnerships with local and national brands to build her network and create career opportunities.

The Bourque sisters are a great example of the generation that’s coming and leading the way for how female athletes can put themselves on the map.

As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Title IX, I encourage you to do the same thing I did nearly 25 years ago; learn more about Title IX and support women’s sports. You can start today by going to a women’s sporting event, sharing this article on social media or talking with a young girl and explain to her the significance of Title IX. Then, most importantly because of Title IX and NIL, you can watch a women’s sporting event and turn to her and say, “that could be you one day.”

— Special to the Press Herald


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