The Chicago Sky women's pro basketball association team launched a season-long, multi-level initiative to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Title IX and how its legislations have impacted women today.
The announcement was made Feb. 1, in conjunction with National Girl and Women in Sports Day, in front of about 50 students, as well as staff and media, at Young Women's Leadership Charter School in Chicago.
The Sky will have dedicated events, programs and exclusive ticket offers, highlighted by the Aug. 17 home game against the Atlanta Dream, which will be, "Women of InspirationCelebrating the 40th Anniversary of Title IX" at the Allstate Arena.
Also, the Sky will select nine women for a Title IX Team and they will be honored throughout the season, culminating in an awards reception before the August game against Atlanta.
Fans are offered a season-long celebration ticket package for $40, which includes two tickets to any regular season Sky game and two commemorative Sky Title IX t-shirts.
Plus, through the Sky foundation, Sky Cares, companies and individuals will have the opportunity to sponsor nine girls to attend a 2012 Sky game for $81.
Sky chairman and minority owner Margaret Stender was among the speakers at the announcement. She shared personal stories of the impact Title IX had during her basketball-playing days in college, including the night Stender and her teammates were given free team gym shoes, bought by the university, thanks to enforcement of Title IX.
The team chose matching, red, suede Converse shoessome high-tops, some low-tops.
"The fact that I got a chance to play, help me find my leadership voice, help me work in a team, help me learn that I could make a difference, and that it was worth it to work hard and have the discipline and determination to put on those red, suede shoes and be a part of that team. That's the power of what Title IX has done," Stender said.
Passed on June 23, 1972 as part of the Education Amendments Act, Title IX requires gender equality for women and men in all educational institutions, public or private, receiving federal funding in 10 key areas, including employment, higher education and athletics.
Amy Skeen, president and CEO of Girls in the Game, spoke at the announcement too, along with former University of Illinois basketball player and Northern Illinois basketball coach Melissa Parker, who is programs director for Girls in the Game.
All discussed how Title IX has impacted their lives, personally and professionally, and the opportunities each was afforded thanks to the passing of Title IX.
The Sky will honor each member of the team individually, starting on June 1, at Sky home games.
"The Chicago Sky is excited to celebrate Women of Inspiration and the 40th Anniversary of Title IX this season," said Director of Operations and President of Sky Cares Erika Swilley. "Through our season-long initiative we plan to educate and celebrate this milestone with numerous programs and events and can't wait to get started."
Before Title IX, 2% of women participated in college sports. Since Title IX was passed in 1972, women's participation has increased 456% with over 200,000 women participating in college athletics and 1 in 3 girls playing sports at the high school level. Title IX has paved the way for some of the most influential women athletes of our time, such as Billie Jean King, who beat Bobby Riggs in the famous "battle of the sexes" tennis match and Ann Meyers, the first women to sign a 4-year athletic scholarship with UCLA and the first women to sign a NBA contract with the Indiana Pacers
As the only all-girls public school in Chicago, the Young Women's Leadership Charter School gives urban girls the tools to excel academically, to graduate from high school, and to get into college. It was an appropriate location for the press conference, and Girls in the Game has started working to provide programming at the facility, on Chicago's Near South Side.
See www.ywlcs.org/donors/special_events.php for information.
The Sky opens the 2012 season on Saturday night, May 19, against Washington. Chicago's home opener is Friday night, May 25, against Indiana.
For Girls in the Game info see www.girlsinthegame.org .
See www.wnba.com/sky .