As March kicks off Women's History Month, CBS Sports is celebrating 50 years of Title IX with several interviews with trailblazers across the sports landscape. United States women's national team star and Kansas City Current midfielder Samantha Mewis sat down with Attacking Third podcast to discuss the impact of the federal civil rights law decades later.
The winner of U.S. Soccer's 2020 Player of the Year reflected on the differences in experiences for players her age growing up and playing soccer. "I felt like growing up, I had every opportunity that I could have asked for," Mewis said reflecting on Title IX.
"I was born in 92, so Title IX had been in place for a while, and I just think, in my community, girls playing soccer was applauded and welcomed. It was this exciting thing and growing up I never even thought about there being a difference between boys and girls playing soccer. So I think that just speaks to how far Title IX has allowed women in sport to come."
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Growing up in a different era with the federal law already in place, Mewis credits USWNT's '99ers -- the 1999 World Cup winners who helped pave influence change in women's sports -- as a source of inspiration at a young age through representation, while her teammates are inspiring her to motivate the next generation through a different fight beyond representation of women on the pitch, but for a larger battle of equality within the sport.
"I was looking up to the '99ers, and it's without that kind of representation of women in sport -- and then to go with a step further -- women who look like you with sport. I think that it was so important for me to see that. It's so important for young girls to see us continuing and my teammates continuing with that.
"This has been an educational opportunity for me as well -- I have found over these past few years, especially -- that I'm so kind of blown away by my teammates ability to put what happens into language [and] into action. I don't know that I, on my own, could have recognized what was happening or even could have thought to do what we did."
The, that includes a commitment to equal pay for both men's and women's national teams that is contingent on both teams ratifying a new collective bargaining agreement.
"I just think that my experience has been so much this learning position where I look at Becky Sauerbrunn and Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan and Christen Press, and I look at these women who were asking for more, demanding better, and now I might know better how to do that in the future."
The USWNT will now take the next steps to ratify a new CBA in light of the recent settlement announcement and Mewis has a certain list of bullet points that players hope will be agreed upon during negations, which includes equal pay between the teams and an emphasis of importance of NWSL club play.
"The CBA being equal is obviously the first thing that both parties, of course, are aspiring to figure out what that looks like," said Mewis. "[Another] is club and country balance. I think one of the things that's really important to us, is being here [in NWSL] available for our club games. I think in the past with with world tournament and qualifying tournaments and having games in the league played during FIFA windows, that's been a huge challenge. We haven't been as present with our clubs as we would like to be. So, finding that balance is something that's really important to me."