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The Story Behind Sports Illustrated’s June 2022 Title IX Anniversary Cover

Women of all ages, eras and levels—from Major League Baseball to rec-league soccer—shared their stories and photos embodying what Title IX means to them. The unique crowd-sourced image demonstrates the deep-rooted effect of the 1972 law.

The cover of the May 28, 1973, issue of Sports Illustrated is still striking, with its close-up photo of an anonymous young female sprinter and jarringly direct headline: WOMEN ARE GETTING A RAW DEAL.

That cover story was the first installment in a surprisingly forward-looking three-part series by SI on the state of women’s sports. The key takeaways: In ’73 gender inequity in funding and opportunity was rampant, as was chauvinism toward female athletes at all levels.

Some of the ground covered in the series is shocking; some is all too familiar. One thing today’s reader can’t help but notice is the absence of any mention of Title IX, the gender-equity education law that was signed a year earlier. No one then foresaw the impact it would have. Sometimes the seeds of revolution bloom slowly.

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Now it’s a given that Title IX has definitively shaped the modern sports landscape—we’ve had its 50th anniversary, and this issue, circled on our calendars for a while. We wanted this package of stories, overseen by Assistant Managing Editor Jamie Lisanti, to explore the history and future of Title IX. And we wanted the cover to capture the spirit of a law that in one way or another has impacted every woman in this country.

So this spring we asked readers at and on social media to submit photos embodying what Title IX means to them. SI director of photography Marguerite Schropp Lucarelli curated dozens of submissions featuring women of all ages, eras and levels, from Major League Baseball to rec-league soccer. You can see some of them on this unique crowdsourced cover—alongside such sports icons as Billie Jean King, Allyson Felix and Pat Summitt—and below, where women of all ages shared their personal Title IX stories. The Title IX effect runs deep, from sports’ grass roots to their halls of fame.