When Alyssa Porter, director of youth and family programs, played soccer in college, one of the first things her coach ever told the all-women team was to “focus on your academics. There’s no future for women in sports.” While this sentiment was the prevailing narrative at the time, things are slowly progressing forward.
“Today, we see a lot of investment in male-dominated sports,” Porter said. “However, many schools continue to not make the same investments in women’s athletics, especially at college levels, despite laws such as Title IX existing.”
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Title IX, first signed into law by President Richard Nixon in 1972, as part of the Education Amendments. The law requires schools, colleges and educational institutions to provide equal educational opportunities and access for both men and women, which includes in athletics. Prior to Title IX, laws preventing gender and sex discrimination only applied to employment settings, not to educational spaces. As a result, many colleges and schools did not offer athletic opportunities for women, barring women from the world of sports.
At 5 p.m. Wednesday, July 13, in Smith Wilkes Hall, Porter will be moderating a roundtable discussion titled “The Intersection of Human Rights and Athletics” with Becca Roux, executive director of the U.S. Women’s National Team Players Association. Roux is also on the board of directors for OneTeam Partners, an organization which helps athletes monetize their image.
Roux is a staunch advocate for gender equality, and she has led numerous equal pay initiatives to bridge wage gap discrepancies between men and women in sports. In 2019, she helped negotiate a collective bargaining agreement for the U.S. women’s national soccer team, providing the team with equal pay to their male counterparts.
The discussion will continue Week Three’s theme of the “The Future of Human Rights” and will commemorate the passing of Title IX. The roundtable will discuss what human rights looks like, how contract and pay negotiations work in the sports industry, and what it is like to be a female athlete in the 21st century.
Roux will be accompanied by Boys’ and Girls’ Club counselor Maya Naimoli, who will be joining The Ohio State University’s women’s soccer team in fall 2023.
“I’m really excited about Maya being able to be a part of this conversation because she is a young adult who is currently working in our programs and has important firsthand experiences to share with our community on stage as a young female athlete,” Porter said.
Although the programming is geared toward young adults, people of all ages are welcome to join the discussion.
“What we’re trying to do when it comes to expanding youth programs is finding opportunities where we can develop broader audience programs,” Porter said. “While the bonus is serving broader communities, the intention is still to plan for young people first.”