The sports world reacts to Roe v. Wade, 50 Years of Title IX, and More

Just a day after the sports world celebrated the 50th anniversary of landmark Title IX legislation that, in part, helped establish women’s college sports as we know it, the country took a step back 50 years when the Court supreme has officially canceled Roe vs. Wadethe ruling that protected abortion rights for women in this country.

After such a week, we decided to use this space to highlight only our women’s stories, as opposed to our usual return to sports week. Sorry the NBA Draft analysis, the reactions to the Eagles’ latest signing, the Phillies’ catches and the Flyers’ coaching debates, you’ll have to wait your turn.

The news being a little heavy to end the week, we start with something a little lighter: the interactive return of Maria McIlwain on the evolution of women’s uniforms.

Over the past 50 years, women’s sport has changed a great deal, and the uniforms worn by female athletes have evolved alongside the strategies themselves. From pre-Title IX days to today’s high-tech digs, take a look at the different uniforms of various women’s sports across the city (and state) through the ages.

Temple Women’s Basketball, 1924 vs. Today

Nearly 100 years have passed since Temple’s first women’s basketball team, and a lot has changed since the Owls wore sweaters, skirts and tights. Use the slider below to compare the uniforms worn by the Temple second team in 1924 with those worn by Mia Davis and the Owls today.

Temple Women’s Basketball, 1966 vs. 1983

Between 1966 and 1983, the Owls ditched uniform dresses, accessories and all, and turned to cropped shorts and more modern t-shirts.

— Maria McIlwain

To read the full story, click here.

There was no shortage of women’s sports coverage on our site this week.

  • More recently, we had reactions to the cancellation of Roe v. Wade around the sports world, including several local athletes. We also had comments from Megan Rapinoe of the United States Women’s National Team, who didn’t hold back.

  • Speaking of Rapinoe, Jonathan Tannenwald caught up with the veteran soccer star, who discussed a new role at the USWNT and shared his thoughts on his fiancée Sue Bird’s retirement. Meanwhile, former national team goalkeeper Briana Scurry opened up about her new memoir – while sharing her thoughts on the USWNT roster.

  • In the final week of our 50th Anniversary Title IX throwback, we looked at several different scenarios in addition to our Uniform Evolution throwback. First, Mike Jensen wondered what starting Title IX from scratch in 2022 would look like. He also spoke to experts about how Title IX and NIL work together, while Andrea Canales examined how a pair of homegrown athletes coped with added pressure during banner seasons.

  • There’s also this powerful video from Astrid Rodrigues in which several local athletes discuss the impact of Title IX on them and what they hope for the next generation, as well as a visual insight into the legacy of the Title IX in Philadelphia, told by those most affected.

  • Want to feel old? Vaughn Hebron’s daughter, Sanaa, is graduating from Neshaminy High School this year and heading to the University of Miami to run track. Hebron, a three-time state champion who recently competed in the New Balance Nationals at Franklin Field, proves that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

  • Abby Sharpe, who won a state title at Plymouth Whitemarsh, will move to Penn next season. Joey Piatt has written about his basketball journey – and how an early setback turned out to be a defining moment in his young career.

Finally, we end this article with a long read that you may not have had time to consume during the busy week. This one comes from Mike Sielski and focuses on an icon not just in women’s sports, but in sports in general: former Immaculata coach Cathy Rush, who continues to inspire the next generation.

The word legacy is used so frequently in discussions of the sport that it has become commonplace, although there is no consensus on what it actually means. What is Jackie Robinson’s legacy? Easy enough. But what is Michael Jordan’s legacy? The six championships? Sneaker sales? Is John Madden’s legacy his brilliant coaching spirit or his brilliant entrepreneurial spirit? Will Barry Bonds’ alleged steroid use forever erase his 762 circuits from our collective memory? Is the legacy of an athlete or coach simply the first thing you think of every time you hear their name? What if someone else thinks of something different? There’s seldom anything tangible you can see and touch and say, There. Here it is. There is my heritage.

Cathy Rush can. Every summer weekend, she drives 105 miles north from her home in Ventnor to Doylestown to visit Michael’s family. So let’s stop here, 50 years after the passage of Title IX, to understand this dynamic between grandmother and granddaughter and the symbolic significance of their relationship.

Meet Cathy Rush, a basketball revolutionary who coached Immaculata College to three National Championships for the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women, then an NCAA counterpart. Which was not a product of Title IX but predated it – the first of these championships was held in March 1972, three months before President Richard Nixon signed the bill into law. Who was not yet 30 when, after guiding the Mighty Macs to those three consecutive AIAW titles and six finals, winning 149 games and losing just 15 at Immaculata, she retired from coaching in 1977 to raise his two sons and continue to grow his camp business into something close to an empire. Who was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008 and whose groundbreaking Immaculata teams were inducted in 2014 and who got to see her story portrayed Hollywood-style in the 2009 film The Mighty Macs.

This is Cathy Rush, and here is Julianna Rush with her: the flesh and blood of Cathy, the manifestation of her life and work by walking, talking, dribbling and shooting. Julianna is just a girl, but she’s also more than a girl. She represents something bigger, a drop of water in a wave that Cathy helped inflate. …

“As much as I admire him, they admire him”, [Julianna] said. “They whisper, ‘Is that your grandmother? “” —Mike Sielski

To read Mike’s full story, click here.

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