I love sports, and I love television, so it’s rather convenient how they typically go hand-in-hand. But I’m also a big fan of women’s sports, and well, those remain a much more scarce commodity on TV.
I’m not just talking about tennis or ice skating (I know the WNBA and the women’s NCAA Final Four get some air time, but I’m not really a basketball fan), I’m talking team sports like softball, soccer, and all the other random ones you only get to watch during the Olympics, late at night.
Anytime I find a game or tournament or competition or even just a female athlete getting some major media attention I’m pretty pumped. Which is why I’m really excited to see ESPN’s 30 for 30 Film Series branching out this summer with an all new set of films called Nine for IX, in honor of Title IX and the incredible female athletes that have benefited from the landmark education amendment.
Not only is the Nine for IX Film Series about women and sports, but all of the movies created were directed by women too. In addition, the series was executive produced by Robin Roberts, of Good Morning America, and Jane Rosenthal, a film producer with an impressive IMDB list of her own. That’s pretty badass in my opinion.
The new Nine for IX Film Series will kick off on July 2nd, on ESPN. Throughout the rest of the summer a new film will air every Tuesday night at 8pm. Here’s the schedule:
July 2: “Venus Vs.” – I’m sure you already know that Venus Williams is an incredible tennis player, but do you know that she challenged Wimbledon’s status quo of paying female winners less than the male winners? Check out this film for the whole story.
July 9: “Pat XO” – This film dives into the life and career of Pat Summitt, the winningest coach in the history of NCAA basketball. The story is primarily told by her son Tyler, which provides the audience with an unusually intimate depiction of this notorious basketball coach from the University of Tennessee. Assistant coaches, players, and other high-profile athletes help to fill in the gaps.
July 16: “Let Them Wear Towels” – Here’s a ongoing debate that continues to spark passionate responses from both sides: Female Reports and Male Locker Rooms. This film lends a voice to the women who have been trying to break into this male dominated industry, and actual physical space.
July 23: “No Limits” – I’ve never heard of Audrey Mestre, and I certainly don’t know much about Free Diving but this film sounds fascinating and unfortunately tragic. Mestre died in 2002 when she attempted a world-record free-dive of 561 feet. However, her contributions to the sport go far beyond her last dive.
July 30: “Swoopes” – I had a Sheryl Swoopes jersey for the inaugural season of the WNBA, but being a 12-year who was simply excited to see a professional sports league of any kind for women, I really didn’t know much about the players beyond who was ‘the best’. This film promises to provide a more detailed story of the woman who broke records and paved the way for so many other athletes on and off the court.
Aug. 6: “The Diplomat” – The Cold War, ice skating, socialism, and secret police, sounds like one hell of a thriller. And it may be, but according to the film description it’s mostly about Katarina Witt, one of East Germany’s most popular and prolific athletes.
Aug. 13: “Runner” – For some athletes, their career is remembered for, or defined by, one moment; but unfortunately for Mary Decker her Olympic moment was nothing like she dreamed. One small collision with another runner during the 3,000 meters ended her hopes of earning a medal, and despite an otherwise successful career that fall would eclipse almost everything else she ever accomplished.
Aug. 20: The “The ’99ers” – Goal! Now this is a sport’s moment I remember – the US’s victory in the Women’s World Cup over China in a penalty-kick shootout. If you want to relive the excitement of that summer, then this film is for you. Footage for the film even includes behind-the-scenes videos shot by the players during the tournament.
Aug. 27: “Branded” – Image over accomplishments, this is the ongoing battle that female athletes face from the media. Hell, we even saw it on display last summer during the Olympics when gold medalists like Gabby Douglas and members of the US women’s swim team came under scrutiny for their appearances. This film explores the double standard by giving the floor to the women who have played on this uneven playing field their entire lives.