As someone who came around a little too early to take advantage of Title IX, I am more than just a little jealous at the options girls and young women have these days to play sports. In fact, all you have to do is look around the UC campus this weekend to see how those opportunities have paid off:
UC's women's basketball team won their second straight home game Saturday and now head to Alaska for a brief, but important holiday tournament.
At the same time, the Bearcat volleyball team is in the finals of the BIG EAST tournament, with the game televised nationally on ESPNU Sunday.
So what brings about this surge of nostalgia? After Saturday's women's basketball game, the team held a brief reception for VIP and Pride Program ticket holders. I was sitting with one of the UC alumnae who played basketball for the Bearcats and she asked me if I had played basketball growing up.
Well, the immediate answer is, yes, of course, since I'm from Indiana and you're born with basketball knowledge in your blood and you just pray your school's coach knows as much about the game as you do. The secondary answer is, not really, because our version of basketball was the half-court, three on three that you played in phys ed class. Back in the day they still didn't think it was healthy for girls and young women to run full court.
Which brings me to today. I hope these players understand, realize and appreciate the opportunities they have been afforded to play the game they love at a high level. They have received these opportunities on the backs of hundreds of women who had to wash out their own uniforms, travel by van and play in front of family and friends--and sometimes even the friends didn't bother to show up.
I know that I, and a lot of my friends, would have given important body parts to have the chance to play on a real court, in a real gym, in front of fans. I didn't have that chance, so I do the next best thing by announcing at the games, calling play by play when I have the chance and being around these players who have unlimited opportunities to pursue their hoop dreams.
Don't take those opportunities for granted. Don't look back five years from now and wonder what happened to those years on the court. Play your hardest, thank those who went before you, and build a foundation for the next generation of young players. Because, just like you years ago, there are little girls in the bleachers watching your every move. Give them a good example to follow.