Culture

Title IX played a big part in Laura Ricketts’ life. ‘The impact that it has is immeasurable,’ the Chicago Cubs co-owner and MLB groundbreaker says.


On a scorching June afternoon, historic Wrigley Field served as a fitting backdrop.

Chicago Cubs co-owner Laura Ricketts holds a rare position within men’s professional sports leagues. She is one of a few women currently at the ownership level. And as chairman of the board for Cubs Charities, Ricketts has witnessed firsthand how sports can have an impact on communities.

Although she didn’t grow up with aspirations of a career in sports, Ricketts says she was the best athlete in her family.

“My brothers would probably disagree about that, but my mom will not disagree. She knows,” Ricketts said with a smile during a recent interview with the Tribune. “So that was my thing.”

Born five years after Title IX passed in 1972, Ricketts was among the first generation of girls to benefit from the amendment, which included opportunities in sports. She recalled playing T-ball at 5 years old, and by the time she reached high school, volleyball, softball, basketball and track filled up her calendar. Recently she has started playing tennis with her wife, Brooke.

“It’s hard to overstate how it’s impacted my life — and it made me who I am today, honestly,” Ricketts said of sports. “Sports teaches you about being a teammate, it teaches you to put yourself out there, it teaches you to work really hard, it teaches you about resiliency, it teaches you that there’s no shame in failing as long as you try hard or try something new.

“I know all of those played into my development and who I am to this very day.”

Ricketts also has the distinction of being Major League Baseball’s first openly gay owner. Ricketts, who was out when her family bought the Cubs in 2009, acknowledges there can be a burden to breaking barriers; however, she believes it’s an opportunity.

“I may be a queer woman, but I’m also a white woman,” Ricketts said, “so imagine being a queer brown or Black woman, or just imagine being a Black or brown human being of limited means in this country, right? I don’t know what it’s like to walk in their shoes, but I can have the beginning of an understanding of what it’s like not to be equal and to be thought of as the other. I have this incredible access and incredible privilege.

“Obviously it comes up in baseball. … I have the credibility as the queer person in the room to give the leeway for conversation and to allow people to grow and to learn from it.”

Her foundation in sports helped Ricketts navigate law school at Michigan, and eventually as a lawyer, in a competitive, largely male environment. Ricketts remembers women in law school forming a study group, encouraging and supporting each other. In the years since, this dynamic has played out for Ricketts through her work on a local and national level.

In addition to leading the Cubs’ charity efforts and creating youth programming, Ricketts in 2012 cofounded LPAC, the first queer women-focused super PAC that endorses and supports candidates who are committed to …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment

      

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