A new piece from Christine Brennan in Thursday's USA Today discusses the influence of female athletes on current male sports stars. Brennan's article shows just how far-reaching Title IX is — that two of today's sports stars have no problem citing female athletes, not Michael Jordan or Tom Brady, as those who have inspired them most.
Says Keegan Bradley, who just won the PGA Championship on Sunday, of his aunt Pat, LPGA Hall-of-Famer, "I grew up going to Pat's tournaments and totally idolizing her and wanting to be like her out there. I remember watching her. I remember as a kid going to her tournaments and literally staring her in the face, and I'm her nephew, and she was so into it she would not even recognize me. And I thought that was cool. I always wanted to be like her."
Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin wears No. 8 because of his childhood sports idol, his mother, Tatyana Ovechkina. Ovechkina wore the No. 8 for nine years as a part of the USSR Olympic team that won basketball gold at the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games.
"My mom won two Olympic gold medals by working hard and always pushing herself to be better all the time," Alex Ovechkin said in an e-mail from Moscow to USA Today on Wednesday. "She always told me to set big goals and do everything you can to achieve them all the time. I still do that today because I always want to be a better hockey player and person."