Behind The Scenes

Power Of IX: Kristine Lilly

U.S. Women's National Soccer Team forward Kristine Lilly.

This is a big year for U.S. women’s sports, since it marks the 40-year anniversary of Title IX, part of the Education Amendment of 1972 that allowed girls to have the same chance as boys to play sports in school.

As a star of the U.S. women’s national soccer team, Kristine Lilly has been the face of the success of Title IX.

Her resume includes playing in three Olympics, winning three medals (including two golds), participating in five World Cups, winning two of them, and being the second all-time leading scorer in U.S and world history.

Try to match that, Messi.

Lilly shared her thoughts on Title IX and the role ESPN has played in the growth of women’s sports.

What are your thoughts on the legacy of Title IX?
It has definitely made a difference, I think it was needed, unfortunately, in ’72 when it was passed. I’m a product of it. I was born in ’71, so I grew up with Title IX. Shoot, when I was in college in ’89 there were only three scholarships offered, now there are I think 14. So you see the growth since then.

The Power of IX

The guys now complain that they are cutting men’s sports. Well, there are ways that it can meet the demands of Title IX without cutting [anything]. I just think that sometimes we get caught up in doing what’s easy instead of trying to work around the system. I don’t want people to miss out on having the opportunity, because I grew up without having one…It’s a fine line, but to me it goes back to what is right, and that is giving kids the opportunity to play.

Tell me about what your own experience was like growing up.
Well, I grew up playing with boys from second to fifth grade. It didn’t make a difference to me, it wasn’t a big deal. They would say things like “Look, there is a girl on the team” and I would reply “Yeah, so what?” I went to a tournament once and there was a team that didn’t want to play us because there was a girl on the team, so we just left. I definitely felt supported, and that was great.

How do you think ESPN shaped the world of women’s sports?
Well, they grew with it. In ’91, I’m not sure any World Cup games were covered…this past World Cup, they covered every game. People get the chance to watch it, and that is huge. Then you see it on SportsCenter, and that gives it even more exposure. The Brazil game was the [most popular] one, and just as many or even more people tuned in to the final against Japan.

Who is your favorite SportsCenter anchor?
Stuart Scott, because he went to UNC, a Tar Heel. I like Hannah Storm, because she has been around for a while.

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