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Lt. Gov. Simon named to Chicago Sky Title IX team 

Joins Olympic gold medalists for celebration on 40th Anniversary  

CHICAGO – August 17, 2012. Following the success of U.S. women in the London Olympics, Lt. Governor Sheila Simon will join several gold medalists and the Chicago Sky basketball team to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Title IX this evening at Allstate Arena.

During halftime of the Sky’s first game since the Olympics, the WNBA team will recognize Simon and other female athletes and coaches by naming them to a honorary Title IX team. Two Sky players, Sylvia Fowles and Swin Cash, won gold medals at the London games and will lead their team against the Atlanta Dream tonight at 7:30 p.m. in Rosemont.  

Title IX, enacted on June 23, 1972, banned gender-based discrimination in federally funded schools in the United States. As a result, employment and academic opportunities for young women were greatly expanded, but the biggest impact was an increase in athletic opportunities for women.  

“Through Title IX, we are showing young women and girls that they are empowered and able to work, play and learn in any discipline they choose,” said Simon. “This year’s Olympics are one example of the impact Title IX has had in expanding opportunities for women. The US Olympic team featured more women than men and the majority of U.S. gold medalists were women.”

Fowles and Cash each won their second gold medals after helping lead the USA Women’s Basketball Team to victory in London. Team USA has now won five consecutive Olympic gold medals in women’s basketball and has not lost an Olympic contest since 1992.            

"Not a day goes by in my life that I am not effected by the impact of Title IX,” said Cash. “In light of my recent experiences at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, I became increasingly aware and grateful for the women before me who fought to get me to where I am today. Women like Lt. Governor Sheila Simon, who not only made realizing my own personal Olympic dream possible, but more importantly have given opportunity and equality to young women and girls around the nation."

Women set major milestones in the 2012 Olympics. For the first time women outnumbered men on the U.S. Olympic team and 29 of the 46 U.S. gold medals were won by a woman or women’s team. The 2012 games also marked the first team every nation had at least one female athlete and the first time women participated in every sport. Since 1972, the number of women Olympic participants has increased from just over 1,000 to nearly 5,000 in 2012, over 44 percent of the total athletes.   

Former captain of the USA Women’s Soccer Team and a gold medalist in 1996 and 2004, Julie Foudy, will be named to the honorary Title IX team alongside Margaret Stender, chairwoman, former president and CEO of the Chicago Sky; Sarah Spain, ESPN/ESPNW contributor and reporter; Amy Skeen, president and CEO of Girls in the Game; Lisa Cole, founder of the Chicago Force; Peg Kopec, volleyball coach at St. Francis High School in Wheaton; Ramelia Williams, former Chicago director of Go Girl Go!; Maria Wynne, CEO for Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana; and Lt. Governor Simon.              

Simon was an All-American high jumper as an undergraduate at Wittenberg University, and has held school records in indoor and outdoor high jump since the 1980s. Simon competed on the men’s indoor track team during her freshman year as a women’s team did not exist until the following year. This summer Simon declared June 23 “Title IX Day” in Illinois and joined the Sky for a celebration in recognition of the 40th anniversary of Title IX.  

Though Title IX has greatly increased the amount of academic and athletic opportunities available to women, a recent U.S. Department of Education report showed that participation of minority and low-income girls in sports is still lacking. According to the report, an average of 51 percent of white female high school sophomores participate in sports, but the figure falls to 40 percent for African Americans and 32 percent for Latinos.  

“In Illinois, we know that high school girls participating in sports has risen tenfold in the past 40 years,” Simon said. “Despite this growth, though, we will not be able to truly celebrate the impact of Title IX until every student across the state has an equal opportunity to excel in and outside of the classroom.”