Christmas Comes Early for the Lady Huskies
Last night, to modest fanfare the Lady Huskies of the University of Connecticut became the winningest team in all of college basketball. That is, these ladies have won more consecutive basketball games (89 to be exact) than any other Division I college basketball team of women or men! The eclipse of the record formerly held by the UCLA men’s basketball team from 1971-1974 is a profound accomplishment.
To be sure, this is a credit to the UConn basketball program from the quality of the recruiting, to the excellent coaching, and the extended support available to the student athletes. And, it is also a reflection of the discipline and hard work of the young women who have come through the program during this time. It is also, however the latest example of what can come from good social policy. The policy to which I refer is Title IX that was signed into law in 1972 by President Richard Nixon. This landmark legislation called for the equal access based on sex in all educational activities from science and math education, to access to health care and dormitory facilities, as well as participation in athletic programs.
The impact on the lives of girls and young women in the ensuing 40 plus years has been significant. It cannot be understated the continued need for healthy role models for girls and young women in pop culture and media. As more and more young women pursue athletics and adopt female sports heroes the opportunity to combat such negative images increases. Young women should be told and shown continuously that striving to be the fastest, the strongest, or the smartest are as important, if not more so, that being the prettiest or thinnest. It should not go unmentioned that basketball is not plagued like some other sports and activities with the problems of promoting poor body image and eating disorders.
Basketball is an excellent sport for girls and young women to pursue. For the talented, it can provide an opportunity to a better education both at the high school and collegiate levels. And for the most talented, it can provide financial opportunities through a career in professional sports either stateside or abroad. In short, as is the case for boys and young men, the pursuit of athletics, in this case basketball can open a wealth of opportunities for young women. Now more than ever, Title IX continues to cultivate and expand these opportunities demonstrating how good social policy can make a stronger society.
In our current environment, in which physical activity course requirements in schools continues to decrease as the incidence of childhood obesity increases, developing skills and enthusiasm in basketball or any sport can help girls and young women thrive, both literally and figuratively.
Join me in casting the spotlight on the women of the UConn basketball team for winning 89 consecutive games, more than any other team in Division I collegiate basketball. This is a major accomplishment regardless of the magnitude of media coverage.
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