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"The Rule of Sedona Prince": Oregon Star the Subject of ESPN Short Film to Commemorate 50th Anniversary of Title IX

The film is one of five short films featured in ESPN's W. Studios Fifty/50 Shorts project that will air Wednesday night.

50 years ago this month, the passing of Title IX prohibited sex-based discrimination under any school or education-related program that is funded by the federal government.

While the civil rights law in its original form was not directly tied with sports, it gave women the right to equal opportunity in sports in federally-funded educational institutions.

This month, ESPN will highlight the stories at the intersection of women, sports, culture, and the continued fight for equality across its platforms as part of its Fifty/50 initiative. The programming includes a series of five short films, titled "W. Studios Fifty/50 Shorts," which is the first project under ESPN's W. Studios content generator that "creates, produces, and amplifies women-centered storytelling." All five shorts will air Wednesday beginning at 6:30 p.m. PST on ESPN2 and will also be available on ESPN's YouTube page.

W. Studios enlisted women-led filmmaking teams to produce the Fifty/50 Shorts. Each short is directed and executive produced by women.

ESPN's Fifty/50 Shorts.

ESPN's Fifty/50 Shorts.

One of the five short films, titled "The Rule of Sedona Prince," is centered around Oregon women's basketball star Sedona Prince and her rise to fame for exposing gender inequities during the 2021 NCAA Tournament. The film, directed by Bethany Mollenkof and executive produced by Robin Roberts, gives an in-depth perspective at the challenges of social media fame and how the college athletics landscape has evolved in recent years.

"Sedona is just so unbelievably authentic and accessible," Allison Glock, executive producer of the Fifty/50 project, told Ducks Digest. "I think that's why they resonate so much and are so popular."

READ MORE: Sedona Prince Partners With Riff on NIL Equity Deal

Viewers get to see Prince in a multitude of settings throughout the short, including some vlog-style bits where they describe their daily life during the 2021-22 season. The short explores how the balance of social media fame and basketball can affect relationships and mental health.

"Even though Sedona is so exposed and has a huge social media presence, you come away from the short knowing things you didn't know before and seeing Sedona in a different light," Glock said.

Sedona Prince shoots a jumper over a UCLA defender.

Sedona Prince shoots a jumper over a UCLA defender.

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Prince's story is one of many examples of how Title IX has revolutionized sports at all levels but how there is still plenty of room to grow within that frame. With the Fifty/50 Shorts project, Glock said that she and her team of filmmakers wanted to focus on sharing underrepresented stories of women and the ongoing battle for equality in sports.

"What I wanted to achieve was first and foremost enabling women to tell their own stories, which shouldn't be a thing you have to fight for in 2022," she said. "I also wanted to make sure that we looked at Title IX in a fresh way and not just sort of the traditionally expected narratives around it.

"Women's content is often put in the celebration box, and it was important to me to get out of that. The films are about women taking up space and asserting themselves where they're not necessarily welcome and the change that can come from that."

READ MORE: Oregon 2023 Hot Board: Offensive Line

Prince has been at the forefront of making change in today's college athletics landscape made up of social media clout and NIL benefits. Many athletes have used those tools for their own personal benefit, which is well within their right, but Prince has prioritized giving a voice to the voiceless.

"It's my responsibility to use my voice and social media to inspire others," Prince told Ducks Digest in early May. "I hope through my voice there is more equity and opportunity for those who previously weren't afforded the same opportunities as me."

Sedona Prince takes the court during team introductions before a game against Dixie State.

Sedona Prince takes the court during team introductions before a game against Dixie State.

Prince's influence, as well as the influence of countless female athletes pushing for equality, has helped to grow the demand for women's sports content. While there's still work to be done, the passing of Title IX 50 years ago and the work of so many athletes has given that work the space to get done.

If you're a social media troll who comments "Who cares?" and "Kitchen" under women's sports posts, it might be time to find a new hobby because women's sports aren't going anywhere.

"We have the facts and figures to back up the fact that the more women's sports are exposed and the more you amplify them and the more you make them easy to view, the better they do," Glock said. "I don't know how you resist some of the incredible women's sports stories we've had. They're incredible stories in and of themselves, whether they're about women or artichokes."

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