Opinion
Education Opinion

Hope, Title IX, and Dreams of the World Cup

By LeaderTalk Contributor — July 20, 2011 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

It hadn’t occurred to me that the U.S. would actually lose to Japan in the World Cup Soccer Final last Sunday. Our women’s team was magical. They came from behind against Brazil and won on penalty kicks and the rest seemed pre-ordained. All that was missing was Al Michaels roaring into the microphone: “Do you believe in miracles?!!!” and the jingoistic chant of “USA!...USA!...USA!...”.

So I decided I would write a post about the amazing skill and passion and audacity and focus and persistence and fitness and resilience and talent of this extraordinary team. I decided I would write about how they flew to Germany and somehow captured the heart of a nation back home. How, while most of us were bellyaching about the NFL lock-out, our girls were quietly kicking butt. How they lifted one of the most coveted trophies in international sports: the World Cup.

But then they lost. Japan came from behind and won on penalty kicks and the tables were turned.

So much for my blog post about winning the World Cup.

Then I noticed something else about our team. I saw how incredibly positive they were-- how gracious, even in the face of heartbreak and defeat. There were no tears. There was no scape-goating or drama. Just classy American athletes at a time when “classy” and “American athletes” have long since become an oxymoron.

That’s when I realized that we are all beneficiaries of Title IX.

That 1972 federal law which created new opportunities for women in athletics was based on the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. (Incidentally, so was the line of cases and laws that defined student rights in special education, school finance schemes, bilingual education, and of course, school desegregation).

“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subject to discrimination under any education program or activities receiving Federal financial assistance.”

Title IX represented a vision of opportunity and equal treatment that has, forty years later, inspired our daughters to excel in every walk of life. And not just our daughters because many of those Japanese athletes grew up watching Mia Hamm and now play professional soccer here in the US.

Engraved in the golden walls of the World Cup is (at least metaphorically) a kind of promise-- that when you provide every person with legitimate opportunities to fully develop their natural gift, the boundless potential of the entire human family comes closer to fruition.

The fight for educational equity in the United States is far from over. There are huge populations of students “left behind” in the achievement chasm. There are also critical subgroups suffering in silence who are worthy of advocacy at least as passionate as that which produced Title IX: namely, those who are poor, or homeless, or our gay and lesbian students, or our immigrant children, or kids who are victims of bullying. And now we know what happens when we let all of our kids compete.

The US Team was lead by a goalie named Hope. That is fitting. And she would be the first to tell us that you don’t win a world championship on hope, but rather, on focussed energy and effort and commitment. That lesson wasn’t lost on the hundreds of thousands of young girls no doubt watching their new idols on Sunday and dreaming of a world cup campaign of their own.

That is the legacy of Title IX which we all inherited-- a promise to our children that they can play too. As equals. That is what makes the quest for the World Cup worthy of your journey. And mine.

by Kevin W. Riley
Cross-posted on El Milagro Weblog

Related Tags:

The opinions expressed in LeaderTalk are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

Events

Classroom Technology Webinar How Pandemic Tech Is (and Is Not) Transforming K-12 Schools
The COVID-19 pandemic—and the resulting rise in virtual learning and big investments in digital learning tools— helped educators propel their technology skills to the next level. Teachers have become more adept at using learning management
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Building Teacher Capacity for Social-Emotional Learning
Set goals that support adult well-being and social-emotional learning: register today!


Content provided by Panorama
Jobs October 2021 Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Tiny Wrists in Cuffs: How Police Use Force Against Children
An investigation finds children as young as 6 and a disproportionate amount of Black children have been handled forcibly by police officers.
15 min read
Jhaimarion, 10, reacts as he listens to his mother, Krystal Archie talking with an Associated Press reporter in Chicago on Sept. 23, 2021. Archie’s three children were present when police, on two occasions, just 11 weeks apart, kicked open her front door and tore through their home searching for drug suspects. She’d never heard of the people they were hunting. Her oldest child, Savannah was 14 at the time; her youngest, Jhaimarion, was seven. They were ordered to get down on the floor.
Jhaimarion, 10, reacts as he listens to his mother, Krystal Archie talking with an Associated Press reporter in Chicago on Sept. 23, 2021. Archie’s three children were present when police, on two occasions, just 11 weeks apart, kicked open her front door and tore through their home searching for drug suspects. She’d never heard of the people they were hunting. Her oldest child, Savannah was 14 at the time; her youngest, Jhaimarion, was seven. They were ordered to get down on the floor.
Nam Y. Huh/AP
Education Gunman in 2018 Parkland School Massacre Pleads Guilty
A jury will decide whether Nikolas Cruz will be executed for one of the nation’s deadliest school shootings.
3 min read
Annika Dworet and her husband, Mitch Dworet, wipe away tears as their son's name is read aloud during Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz's guilty plea on all 17 counts of premeditated murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in the 2018 shootings, at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021. The Dworet's son, Nicholas Dworet, 17, was killed in the massacre.
Annika Dworet and her husband, Mitch Dworet, wipe away tears as their son's name is read aloud during Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz's guilty plea on all 17 counts of premeditated murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in the 2018 shootings, at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021. The Dworet's son, Nicholas Dworet, 17, was killed in the massacre.
Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel via AP
Education Briefly Stated: October 20, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Gunman in Parkland School Massacre to Plead Guilty
The gunman who killed 14 students and three staff members at a Florida high school will plead guilty to their murders, his attorneys said.
4 min read
Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz is sworn in before pleading guilty, Friday, Oct. 15, 2021, at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on all four criminal counts stemming from his attack on a Broward County jail guard in November 2018, Cruz's lawyers said Friday that he plans to plead guilty to the 2018 massacre at a Parkland high school.
Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz is sworn in before pleading guilty, Friday, Oct. 15, 2021, at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on all four criminal counts stemming from his attack on a Broward County jail guard in November 2018, Cruz's lawyers said Friday that he plans to plead guilty to the 2018 massacre at a Parkland high school.
Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel via AP