Forty years ago, women could only dream of playing sports in school or even making a career of it, but on June 23, 1972, dreams became reality. Title IX was signed into law, ensuring equality for women across all educational programs, including athletics.

In celebration of the 40th anniversary of the law passing, the Mercury will honor and celebrate all women who were impacted by the legislation. The season-long initiative will recognize the effect it has had on women in the sports and business world.

Ann Meyers Drysdale, Phoenix Suns and Mercury vice president, felt the impact of the law passing first-hand when she was the first woman to receive a full athletic scholarship for basketball at the University of California Los Angeles in 1975.

“Playing collegiate sports anywhere other than a local college, let alone receiving a free education for it, wasn’t even in the realm of possibilities for me,” said Meyers Drysdale. “Celebrating how far we’ve come in 40 years is a great accomplishment. Whether women played sports in college or were finally allowed to participate in the sport of their choice on the high school level, it’s worthy of recognition.”

Studies have shown that participation in sports has positive effects on the self-esteem and success of women in both school and the workplace. In fact, a study conducted by mutual fund company Oppenheimer finds 82 percent of executive businesswomen played organized sports after elementary school.

The Mercury is encouraging everyone with a story of how Title IX benefitted them, a friend or family member to submit it on and join in the celebration at the Mercury’s June 23 game, exactly 40 years to the day of Title IX going into effect. All who submit an entry will receive a free ticket to the game and take part in an on-court recognition at halftime.

“Title IX made sports a viable option for women and girls. Growing up playing sports, my role model was Larry Bird. Now my nieces can grow up idolizing Diana Taurasi and DeWanna Bonner. Being a pro basketball player is a real option for them,” said President and Chief Operating Officer Amber Cox.