In this week’s issue, Sports Illustrated shines a light on the far reaching impact of Title IX. The historic legislation has extended beyond just the playing field, changing the role of women in society across the country. As we sit on the cusp of the 40 year anniversary of this historic law, this week’s issue features nine stories that reflect the spirit of Title IX. Senior editor Trisha Blackmar oversaw the project and was instrumental in the conceptualization and creation of this unique issue.
Inside Sports Illustrated: SI’s examination of Title IX includes contributions from more than a dozen writers and photographers. How long did it take to complete this comprehensive issue and what were some of your biggest challenges?
Trisha Blackmar: We started planning the issue back in the fall. The possibilities were overwhelming at first: should we focus on the law’s history? Assess what’s going on now? Propose changes for the future? Most of all, I didn’t want the package to be preachy or filled with a lot of statistics and charts. We decided to do a collection of essays as a way to cover a lot of territory and balance the obvious subjects—Billie Jean King, for example—with more obscure references that might interest SI’s readers, such as how Texas football coach Darrell Royal helped to unwittingly bulletproof the legislation.
Inside Sports Illustrated: Nine different essays (Nine for IX) are included in this week’s issue, reporting on a variety of monumental moments throughout women’s athletic history. Are there any other moments that you wish could have included? If so, which one comes to mind?
Trisha Blackmar: One is the 1999 Women’s World Cup final. We referenced this game in several ways (see Brandi Chastain’s iconic celebration), but this event certainly could have been its own essay. I can’t think of a time when more attention was focused on women’s sports in such a positive way.
Inside Sports Illustrated: While researching the development and implementation of Title IX, what did you find most fascinating?
Trisha Blackmar: It was interesting to trace the legal challenges to the law, and to see the many ways Title IX has been used to protect women’s rights, especially in terms of sexual harassment and sexual assault on college campuses.
Inside Sports Illustrated: As a former collegiate athlete, does the 40th anniversary of Title IX hold special significance in your life?
Trisha Blackmar: Absolutely. As a so-called Title IX baby, I came of age at the perfect time to take advantage of the opportunities the law helped create. My athletic career was not notable in any way, but playing college-level sports had a huge impact on my life and career. My competitive instinct serves me well in the halls of a sports magazine!