On June 23, 1972 the global movement that has empowered girls and women to compete and excel in sport at all levels was launched with the passage of Title IX.
I recently had the opportunity to speak about women in sailing as part of Newsy’s week-long tribute to the landmark 50th anniversary of this groundbreaking legislation.
In 1994, I worked with Doug McCormick, then CEO and President of Lifetime Television on sponsorship development for our America3 Women’s Team. Doug produced Rocking the Boat— Women Race for the America’s Cup and with that the first network sports division devoted solely to women’s sports was born. It was on this project that I also met Brian Donlon, now Executive Producer at Newsy. We recently reconnected after his sterling tribute to Doug, who passed away in May.
While the path to equity in sport is far from over, we have come a long way – thanks to titans of change who stood up to say ‘all girls can play’, ‘women can win’ and ‘I am going to fight for equality.’ Sports legends including Billy Jean King, Donna DeVarona, Lyn St. James, Benita Fitzgerald Mosley, Dawn Riley, Julie Foudy and Rusty Kanokogi blazed trails for women both on and off of the playing field. As we stand on their shoulders, we must support those yet to embark on their path.
• Tenacious, strong work ethic, perseverance
• Goal oriented
• Adaptive, new skill development
• Think strategically, long term goals (entrepreneurial)
• Strive for balance/strong personal boundaries of health
• Work well in/thrive in teams and partnerships
Who wouldn’t want a company filled with these kinds of people?
It’s easy to teach your content, process and systems to good people. But try teaching people to preserver, strive for excellence, be adaptive, maintain healthy life-work balance, and be great team members – if they don’t already possess these qualities and hard wiring. This same list of success oriented qualities applies to retired military leaders. But often retired Athletes and Military leaders fail to translate their skills and value on the playing field or in the armed services – to that of the business world. Don’t overlook these talent pools of people who are all ready wired and conditioned to pursuing excellence.
We often ask ourselves, “What one person can do to make a difference?” Too often, the barriers seem too high and the problems seem too big, but extraordinary change occurs when we have the courage to follow our passion. The New York Times is following the story of Amantle Montsho, a female runner from Africa, who may become the first athlete from Botswana to win an Olympic gold medal in London.
Amantle Montsho’s Legacy
Montsho now has a sponsorship with Nike and earns prize money through races worldwide, including $60,000 for winning the world championships last summer — nearly four times the annual per capita income in Botswana. She finished eighth in the 400 at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
A relative unknown outside Africa, Montsho has become an icon in her home country. A billboard showing her wielding the powder blue, black and white of her nation’s flag stands above an industrial area of steam-pipe fitters and woodworkers. Editors at Mmegi, a newspaper based in Gaborone, said they had lost count of the number of times she had appeared on their front page.
Gaborone’s track at University of Botswana Stadium now attracts young athletes from villages afar. Practices are held in the late afternoon so runners can attend after class or work. Such programs were in their infancy and conducted on a volunteer basis when Montsho was a teenager. Now, several are held throughout the country, cultivating a new generation of female runners.
When Montsho, often wearing brightly colored headbands and matching nail polish, passes through Gaborone, she occasionally takes a lap on the track. Known for her shyness and modesty, she continues to make her way through the country as if she is not famous, locals say.
“Amantle! She’s our girl,” Tshepang Olerato Tlhako, a 19-year-old in Gaborone, said. “She puts Botswana on the map and motivates us. Most of the girls think that sports are a man thing. I don’t know why. Amantle has helped.”
Sethunya Sejoe, a 20-year-old runner, was stretching under an unforgiving sun at the university track. “Amantle showed that if you have the passion, you can do it,” she said.