Candace Parker has encountered one major thing throughout her basketball career.
One landmark case allowed Parker to go from a young girl ballin in the suburbs of Chicago to a McDonald’s All-American that thrived at the University of Tennessee, and then a No. 1 draft pick for the WNBA who’s played her way to a Hall-of-Fame-worthy career during her 13-year career. Parker is amongst the countless women in America that made the most of the opportunities she got after Title IX was enacted 50 years ago.
Since Parker was young, her parents instilled a belief that she could be anything she wanted. Even people like her college basketball coach, coach Summit, showed Parker to fight for what she deserved regarding inequality. Parker witnessed the differences between male and female athletes very quickly.
“But I always saw it, whether it was in travel or when I got to college and saw it in the stipends or the size of the [national championship] ring. You see it in representation and marketing- the billboard outside the arena are football even though we won eight national championships,” Parker explained.
Though Parker experienced some negatives under Title IX, she also credits it for giving the career opportunities that she could’ve never imagined. Opportunities that led to Ace winning two WNBA championships with a Finals MVP earned two MVPs and was named to six All-Star teams during her Hall-of-Fame-worthy 13-year career in LA and Chicago.
“I would not be sitting here today without Title IX. And I thank those that paved the way for me and provided me with the opportunity for the world to even look at me and say that I could be not just a player but a broadcaster. That I could sit there and speak about sports,” said Parker.
The 50th anniversary marks both improvements and accomplishments for Title IX but, most importantly, gives people like Parker room to tell their stories.