With the 40th anniversary of Title IX fast approaching on June 23, President Barack Obama weighed in on the legislation — which mandated that educational institutions provide equal athletic opportunities for men and women — and his own daughters’ athletic exploits.
In an interview with ESPN senior writer Andy Katz, Obama asserted that Title IX has helped create a more equal society.
“Studies show that girls who are involved in athletics often do better in school; they are more confident in terms of dealing with boys,” he told Katz. “And, so, for those of us who grew up just as Title IX was taking off, to see the development of women’s role models in sports, and for girls to know they excelled in something, there would be a spot for them in college where they weren’t second-class, I think has helped to make our society more equal in general.”
While Obama explained that Title IX is a net benefit for society — in terms of creating strong, confident women — he pointed out that most girls do not realize how the legislation has affected their access to sports.
“I think they take it for granted that if they become interested in a sport, if they want to pursue it and if they get good enough, they can play it in college, and that is not something that was taken for granted when I was a young boy — and that is exactly attributable to the legislation,” he said.
Obama told Katz that he got involved in his own daughter Sasha’s basketball team when it became apparent that the girls’ coach did not know a lot about basketball.
“First of all, I am probably just a busybody; every once in a while Reggie and I would be watching the [girls’] game, my former assistant Reggie Love,” he said. “We’d see somebody playing a zone, our girls wouldn’t know where to go, so I would go over and whisper to the coach, who is a wonderful young woman, but she has never played basketball and she works for the National Institute of Health; she is a parent, so we started offering up our services to her. On Sunday, we would have them over to the gym over here and we’d run drills and we’d run plays. It ended up being the most fun I have had doing anything over the past couple of years.”
ABC News reports Obama has not missed a game all season.
Obama explained to Katz that his coaching style is most focused on dribbling, passing and taking reasonable shots at the basket.
“With these girls … dribbling, passing, making sure that you are boxing out, making sure that they are not practicing shooting 3-pointers when they can barely get the ball to the basket,” he said, adding that he has enjoyed watching them progress.