Today, June 23, is the 45th anniversary of Title IX, and ESPN has celebrated the occasion all week, with cross-platform content across television, digital and radio, including a 24-hour marathon of live and classic women’s sports programming.
ESPN Vice President, Women’s Sports Programming, Carol Stiff spoke with Front Row about Title IX and its legacy.
What has been the impact of Title IX on the sports landscape?
The tangible impact of Title IX has been in the increased participation of girls and women in sports and the creation of professional women’s sports leagues like the WNBA and the NWSL. But Title IX has opened other doors as well – more women are coaching on the sidelines, not just in women’s sports, but also in men’s sports as well, like Becky Hammon in the NBA and Jen Welter in the NFL. Title IX has also made an impression on Madison Avenue. Brands like Gatorade, Nike and Adidas have latched onto female sports icons. Over the course of 45 years, young people have had more female athlete heroes to emulate, from Chris Evert, Mia Hamm and Sheryl Swoopes, to Serena Williams, Alex Morgan and Elena Delle Donne.
In NYC on the eve of the 45th Anniversary of Title IX. Go Billie Jean King! pic.twitter.com/JJ7zqJSI8d
— Carol Stiff (@CStiffESPN) June 22, 2017
How has ESPN’s women’s sports coverage and programming evolved since Title IX was enacted?
We’ve had the opportunity to document, in a way, the rise of women’s sports. Within 24 hours of ESPN’s launch (in 1979), we had already televised women’s volleyball (USA versus USSR) and the LPGA Sahara Open. Today, we have more than 7,300 hours of live women’s sports programming across our networks yearly and have aired some of the biggest moments in women’s sports including the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup (on ABC) and UConn’s incredible success in NCAA Women’s Basketball.
You also see the effect Title IX has had outside of our programming. We now have a business dedicated to women’s sports coverage and women who follow sports in espnW. Behind the camera, there are more women who have made a career out of sports, like Alison Overholt, who became the first female editor-in-chief of a national general sports magazine. We have anchors, studio hosts, commentators and analysts who provide a unique perspective. How cool is it to have Jessica Mendoza call MLB games and Beth Mowins the play-by-play for NFL and our NCAA coverage? The impact goes far beyond the field, and you can see how ESPN has changed for the better because of it. ESPN’s women’s sports coverage is vital to our commitment to diversity and inclusion.