"What a special evening. It's history. No more marches down Pennsylvania Avenue," proclaimed world-class skier Suzy Chaffee last night at the conclusion of "An Evening of Achievement."
The occasion was an awards dinner sponsored by the San Francisco-based Women's Sports Foundation to publicize its new Washington operation. Sally Ride, former senator Birch Bayh and foundation Chairman Donna de Varona were among the recipients.
"All the movers and shakers in Washington are here tonight, and they're jocks and they put their jobs on the line to make sports and education equal for women," said Chaffee, who led a march to the White House in 1975 in support of funding equality for women's sports.
But Chaffee wasn't the only celebrity at the French Embassy taking pride in the progress of women in sports. She was joined by senators and congressmen and what seemed like a Who's Who of women's sports.
The athletes present had earned dozens of Olympic medals, and hundreds of world championships and national titles. Such past greats as tennis star Billie Jean King, figure skater Peggy Fleming Jenkins and Lt. Col. Micki King Hogue, a former Olympic diver, shared memories of harder times for women athletes and exulted in the success they had achieved.
"This was real important for us and for Title 9," said WSF founder King of the 1972 amendment to the Equal Education Act, which prohibits discrimination in education programs on the basis of sex. "When I was growing up, I didn't have the opportunities that girls have now."
Part of the reason for the progress was the Senate efforts of Bayh, the chief sponsor of Title IX. Other visitors from the world of politics last night were Sens. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) and Bill Bradley (D-N.J.), on hand to make presentations, and Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Maryland Gov. Harry Hughes.
The hosts were Kathleen Sullivan, coanchor of ABC-TV's "World News This Morning" and one of the anchors for the 1984 Olympics, and Dick Schaap, ABC-TV sports commentator. From the stage they poked fun at the distinguished guests throughout the ceremony.
When Sullivan mentioned that Schaap was last seen in the jubilant Kansas City locker room being dowsed with champagne after the Royals' World Series victory, Schaap astutely replied, "No, it couldn't have been the World Series. Neither France nor women were represented."