Sports legacies Title IX created

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Seven families discuss the multigenerational, maternal lineages they've built across the 50 years since the passage of Title IX.

Before 1972, girls and women who played sports had little expectation of gender equity. Most weren't allowed to cross the half-court line in basketball. They made their own clothes and ran in makeshift shoes. They fought their administrations for access to equipment, transportation and locker rooms. Now, 50 years after the passing of Title IX, the federal civil rights law prohibiting sex-based discrimination in any educational institution receiving federal funding, women athletes have more opportunity than ever.

In June, ESPN and The Walt Disney Company are launching their "Fifty/50 Month" initiative, a wide-ranging content plan focused on the intersection of women, sports, culture and the fight for equality.
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ESPN spoke with women athletes across generations from seven families about their NCAA experiences and beyond. They discussed how conditions have changed in their lifetimes and how wide the gap remains between men's and women's athletic programs.

Family 1 of 7

Two-time Big East scoring champion

Katie Fudd

Basketball, NC State, 1996-97 | Georgetown, 1997-2001

2022 Big East All-Freshman team honoree

Azzi Fudd

Basketball, UConn, 2021-present

[I feel] lucky to be playing today, to get all the perks that everyone before me, like my mom and even before her, fought so hard for.”

Azzi Fudd

Listen to her words:


I was young. ... I just didn’t know how to stand up for myself. That's something we try to teach our kids ...”

[My mom is] huge on me trying to learn self-advocacy. ... Those are things that she picked up on from college and was trying to tell me ...”

We’re not there yet. It’s my generation’s turn to speak up and make it better for the next generation.”


Listen to her words:


Everything was about her looks, not about her athletic prowess or achievements.”

I made a lot of my own clothes ... Those clothes to fit an athletic body weren’t available, meaning it wasn't the small waist, larger hips body.”

I can remember the resistance from men saying, ‘Are you serious? We got to give scholarships to women? Their skills are so far behind.’ I said, ‘You just wait.’ And it only took one generation.”


Listen to her words:


I think as a pitcher ... you just don’t want anybody to hit off you and you have to take it personally that they think they can.”

Whenever I face a pitcher, I just think, ‘Oh, so you think you can get me out? That's funny.’”

When people watch softball, they realize, ‘Wow, this is a sport I enjoy.’ But I don’t think we’re getting represented on the biggest stages.”


Listen to her words:


People have said to me, ‘you’re living vicariously through Shea.’ And I said, ‘No, I did pretty damn good myself.’”

She still let me make my own mistakes ... now that I’m in the actual job and I see how many people are tugging at student athletes to try to get them to certain places, I respect her even more.”

When I think about how hard it is for all of us, I think about what my mom did. She never gave up, so I can’t. ... I have to keep fighting for my players, for my daughter, for her daughter."


Listen to her words:


Once I finished college, that was it for me. I went to work and I started building for my kids to have them a future and to play ball or to get a good education.”

I don’t think that I felt supported or had the courage to be like, ‘Oh, I'm going to tote two babies around to these WNBA games.’ Whereas now, I think, we’ve seen that can be done.”

[My mom] talks about how grateful [she is] that I’m able to experience [better conditions]. Of course, it’s upsetting that she wasn’t able to.”

Am I getting the same thing as a man, or as a white woman? Am I getting the same opportunities? When we don’t have to think about that, that’s when we’ll really be in a good spot.”


Listen to her words:


I think, ‘Oh my golly, were we held back!’ It is incomprehensible now. ”

It’s really about presidents giving women the opportunity. They have to see women have success. ... The more women that have success, the more opportunities.”

Since my grandma played back in the ‘50s, it’s definitely come a long way. There’s definitely a lot more opportunites ...”

Kids today aren’t going to be quiet. ... It holds people more accountable if they realize ... you’re going to get called out on it.”


Listen to her words:


[My mom] had a lot more flexibility than I do. And she had this element of grace ...”

Milan has power that I never had and strength that I never had. She can do tumbling passes easily that I really struggled with.”

It’ll be a really cool day when an athlete is at the top of their game regardless of their gender, and they are the best that ever did it and it doesn’t matter.”


Produced by ESPN Creative Studio: Jessi Dodge, Karen Frank, Jarret Gabel, Alecia Hamm, Kaitlin Marron, Beth Stojkov

Written by Elaine Teng

Photography by The Tyler Twins, Cortney White, Hana Asano, Diana King, Ed Linsmieir, Sarah Rice, Carolyn Fong

Talent production by Stacey Pressman, Lindsay Steckel and Katie Hennessey

Design by Jasmine Wiggins and Beth Stojkov. Research by Dana Lee. Hair and makeup by Yajaira Daniel, Kimberly Briggs, Simon Rihana for Art Department LA, Anna Branson for AMAX Talent Agency, Paige Ryan, Antonio Amon, Phylicia Bongiorno Kalivoda, Janet Mariscal. Additional imagery by Azzi Fudd, Brady Family, Cheryl Bridges, Heather Lyke, Hillmon Family, Marilyn Bamberger Lyke, Marsha Lake, Missy Marlowe, Shea Ralph, AP, ESPN Images, Getty, Icon Sports Media, Imagn, Pac-12 Network, Bentley Historical Library, Cal Athletics, Cleveland State Athletics, Fresno State Athletics, Georgetown University Athletics, Indiana State Athletics, Michigan Athletics, Michigan State Athletics, Otterbein University Archives, Pitt Athletics, Pitt Studios, UCLA Athletics, UNC Athletic Communications, University of Utah, Vanderbilt Athletics

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