We just got a lesson, Berman, 84, told me on Friday, sadness thick in his voice. Women’s rights should not be taken for granted in sports or any other part of life. The fight continues. “Every day,” he said. “Every day.”
There are certainly abortion opponents in sports. On Friday they stayed mostly quiet, at least in my observation, though the former N.F.L. tight end Benjamin Watson wrote on Twitter that, “This turn in jurisprudence marks an end to an era of state sanctioned disregard for human dignity where profitability trumped personhood.”
I’ve been writing about women’s sports a great deal of late. I’ve talked to female athletes about having their power recognized. About the role journalists play in that effort. And about the difficult balance of establishing oneself as a top performer while trying to plan a family and take care of your reproductive health.
I feel a kinship with these women. I see my mother, wife, cousins, colleagues and friends in them. As a Black man living in America, their struggle for empowerment is one I connect with and meditate upon.
A big part of any success I’ve had in life springs from my father’s achievements. In the early 1950s, he became one of the first Black basketball players at the University of Oregon. My dad’s college athletic scholarship, college education and athletic connections propelled his family into the middle class.
Oregon did not have a varsity women’s basketball team when my father played. That didn’t happen, at least in the elite and well-funded way we see today, until Title IX, which was passed during a seven-month stretch in which two pillars of equal rights for women became law. Now only one pillar remains standing.