Running up that hill

Billie Jean King once pointed out that natural talent is just part of the equation for success, that "it's dedication and a willingness to discipline your life that makes you great."

I believe that's true of sports and just about any other endeavor you pursue. But I will say that participation in sports, especially at the high school level, helps to foster that kind of discipline and dedication.


And, just as success is about more than talent, Title IX is about more than sports. It's about creating a more level playing field, in the proverbial sense, and giving girls the same chance as boys to learn the tools one needs to succeed on and off that field.

Yes, it's true that high school girls who participate in sports are less likely to experiment with drugs and alcohol and less likely to become pregnant as teens. But there are long-term benefits as well.

The confidence, cooperation and drive young women learn through playing sports translates into more women completing college and a spike in employment after those same women enter the workforce.

But I didn't really need studies from the Wharton School or the Women's Sports Foundation to know what athletics can mean to a girl. I just had to look at my younger daughter, Carrie.

Every teenage girl feels like she is, at times, running uphill, metaphorically speaking. I know; I was there once. Since Carrie has joined the track team, her ability to tackle that hill has increased by miles. She sleeps better, is less stressed and her overall attitude has improved.

Lest you think she has been completely transformed, she's still 16 and at times drives me crazy. But there's been change nonetheless.

The other day she was trying to teach me how to run around the reservoir in Central Park. As I was running uphill (and for those of you who know the reservoir, "uphill" is a slight slant), she told me to remember that while you're running up a hill, just think about how good you will feel once you run down it.

As we were walking home, Carrie turned to me and said, "Mom, I love running. It's changed my life."

Katie Couric is currently a Special Correspondent for ABC News. Her new talk show, "Katie," will debut on ABC in September. Follow her on Twitter at @katiecouric.

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