‘In Their Court’ is half a century of Title IX as told through women’s basketball and the inequities they still battle

Sports May 19, 2022
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Listen to ‘In Their Court’

“In Their Court” is a new podcast about the rise of the powerhouse that is women’s basketball and the many inequalities the sport still faces 50 years after Title IX. If you want to see how far Title IX has brought us, and how much progress there still is to be made, then look no farther than women’s college hoops.

The podcast, and the movement it’s talking about, was actually inspired by a TikTok. You may remember University of Oregon basketball player Sedona Prince’s viral TikTok from March of 2021. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the men’s and women’s NCAA basketball tournament were being played in the same venue, and it showed the public the deep disparities that still exist between the two leagues.

In the video, Sedona shows us the sorry, singular rack of hand weights provided for every single woman playing in the NCAA women’s basketball tournament. Then she shows us the men’s weight room: an enormous convention space packed with benches, pull-up bars, power racks, and more state-of-the-art equipment.

The vast difference between the two “weight rooms” had actually been called out just a few days before Sedona’s video when a Stanford coach had posted pictures online of the two spaces. In response to the photos, NCAA had claimed it wasn’t a lack of funding that made the women’s “weight room” astonishingly lackluster, but a lack of space.

In her TikTok, Sedona tells us this before panning around the vast, empty convention space she’s standing in that contained only a practice court and the sorry weight rack.

“In Their Court” is a new podcast from NBC News and NBC Sports. This podcast will answer the question: how is this still happening? Fifty years after Title IX made it law that universities with federal funding cannot discriminate on the basis of sex, schools were still letting the NCAA (an organization actually not covered by Title IX) was treating their women’s basketball teams, and probably many more of their women’s teams, like a joke.

“In Their Court” will look at how Title IX changed women’s sports, how far women’s sports have come because of Title IX, and how much farther we all still have to go to achieve actual equality. Olympic medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad hosts this 5-part podcast series.

The first episode of this podcast takes us through the early years of Title IX, which Ibtihaj calls the Wild West. Despite the passage of the law, just 37 words nestled in the Education Amendment of 1972, it wasn’t clear that schools were actually going to follow it. Ibtihaj speaks with Mickie DeMoss, just 19 years old in 1974, who helped create Louisiana Tech’s women’s basketball team which went on to become one of the most winningest teams in women’s college basketball.

She also speaks with Margaret Dunkle, the woman who stepped in and created Title IX, and Sanja Hogg, the first head coach of the Louisiana Tech Lady Techsters. Throughout the podcast, Ibtihaj speaks with more legendary athletes and coaches, like the legendary Tara Vanderveer and Big East Commissioner Val Ackerman, who have actively watched the evolution of Title IX in women’s basketball.

“In Their Court” takes listeners through the war between the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women and the NCAA, who staged a financial takeover of what was essentially the women’s version of their own association. They then bring us through the aftermath of the NCAA takeover, where the 1996 Olympics, referred to as the Title IX Olympics and the Summer of Gold, being dominated by American women while women at the collegiate level still battled for equal rights.

And in reference to Sedona Prince’s viral video, the NCAA ended up commissioning a gender-equity review and finally, finally, branded the NCAA women’s basketball tournament with the “March Madness” moniker after years of resistance.

With the official 50th anniversary of the passing of Title IX coming up in June of this year, do yourself a favor and check out this new podcast. New episodes of “In Their Court” can be heard on Mondays.

Listen to ‘In Their Court’

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