“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity.” – Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972

Saturday is a big day. As a woman who grew up playing sports, and quite frankly, had sports play a defining role in her life, the 40th anniversary of Title IX is a big day for myself and millions of other women who, since 1972, would not have had the opportunities to participate and to flourish without the law in place.

Colleagues, friends and family members who know me personally understand how sports – both watching and participating – plays an integral role in my entertainment and health. But what sports have done for me goes way beyond daily workouts or flopping on the couch to watch the WNBA.

First and foremost, sports have allowed me to bond with my dad, Mike. As a hoops junkie and a 5 handicap in golf, my dad, sister and I spent hours on the couch following the Bulls, Reds and Notre Dame – him teaching us about the 1-2-2 half court trap and infield fly rule, but we also spent time playing together. He coached my elementary school soccer and basketball teams and helped me foster a love of healthy competition and sportsmanship that is weaved through my personality. I’m definitely my father’s daughter.

Sports have also become a confidence builder. Playing on countless teams and pushing myself through fatigue, injuries and physical pain has shown me just how much I can overcome. Sports showed me there’s no easy way out; only hard work that leaves you crying first, but smiling in the end. It was made very clear to me at a young age – you don’t win every time, but you always keep playing.

Lastly, Title IX and the women I’ve met during the past 30 years have shaped my definition of what it means to be powerful, brilliant and feminine all at the same time. This week, I had the privilege to attend the Women in Sports and Events Awards ceremony in New York. The WISE Women of the Year – Gail Hunter of the NBA, Marla Miller of Major League Baseball, and Kim Williams of the NFL Network – embody the poise, the fight and the drive it takes to be a female sports executive. As daughters of Title IX, those women began their careers when no other women had the guts. They, along with many others, made it so young women like myself can embrace a career in sports.

Title IX might be a simple 37-word phrase, and it might not be without controversy, but 40 years ago, it was a life-changing law that has provided three generations of women with opportunities and a new identity not dreamed of previously. On Saturday, if you’re a woman, take a minute to think about how your education or experience in sports has shaped your life.

See, it’s a big day for all of us.

For continued reading on Title IX’s 40th Anniversary, check out these links…

The Power of IX (ESPNW)

Title IX needed now more than ever (USA Today)

As Title IX turns 40, women – and men – tell of opportunity, acceptance and intangible benefits (Washington Post)