June 23, 2012
WASHINGTON - Members of the Georgetown University women's basketball team were part of a group invited by the Department of Education on Thursday to play some pick-up basketball in the District Thursday afternoon.
Forty years ago, it was probably something that women would not have had the chance to do. But in 2012, 40 years after the passage of Title IX, the participation of women in sports at the high school and collegiate level is at an all-time high.
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and his family joined Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, members from the women's basketball teams of Georgetown George Washington and Howard universities, current and former WNBA players at the Interior Department Thursday night to commemorate the passage of Title IX 40 years ago.
"To see three million young girls playing high school sports now, 10 times as much, and six times as many playing at the collegiate level," Duncan said, "it's absolutely staggering the process we've made."
Led by Director of Basketball Operations Tasha Harris, the Hoya contingent included senior Sydney Wilson (Silver Spring, Md./St. John's College Prep), Sugar Rodgers (Suffolk, Va./King's Fork), Andrea White (Lancaster, Va./Lancaster) and Samisha Powell (Virginia Beach, Va./Princess Anne).
Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in all education programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance, and has resulted in millions of women competing in interscholastic and intercollegiate sports as never before.
"Without Title IX, I probably wouldn't have had the chance to come to Georgetown," Rodgers said. "I get a chance to play against the best in the country and 40 years ago, that wouldn't have happened for me."
Participants for the event, which included Washington Mystics star Chamique Holdsclaw, arrived at 5 p.m. and were split into teams. After remarks from Duncan and other dignitaries, teams had a 10-minute shoot-around and then games began at 6 p.m., playing for 45 minutes.
"It was great to be here and to have the chance to celebrate something that has given women so much," Rodgers said. "And getting a chance to play with kids from other schools, WNBA players and influential people in the country made this a lot of fun."