ALLENDALE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — As balloons, a birthday cake, and party favors lined the walls of the Grand Valley State University Fieldhouse Thursday, the guest of honor wasn’t a person, but rather a law.

It was all to honor the 50th anniversary of Title IX, landmark civil rights legislation that leveled the playing field for women in sports and education.

“You don’t win these (Directors Cups for success in collegiate sports) without investing in women’s sports,” GVSU Athletic Director Keri Becker said.

Becker served the last three years on the Task Force on Women in Sports, a committee organized by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, to continue the work Becker says was started by Title IX.

“We’re not done. We’ve certainly increased numbers but there’s a gap. Fewer girls are participating that boys,” Becker said. “It’s not necessarily at the college level, but if we want to sustain success at the college level, to have talented young women who love the sport, we need to make sure our youth sports remain vibrant and our girls have access to them.”

Becker and the task force posted its findings (PDF) this week and says plenty of work needs to be done to further the work Title IX started in 1972.