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Women’s Participation in Sport Throughout History Essay


Women have participated in sports since ancient times. Still, before 1870 it was more like a play activity without competition or special rules. Women were looking for more physical activity. At the edge of 19th and 20th centuries, they started creating unofficial sports societies on tennis, archery, and croquet. The first college women competitions are not recognized as such, for they were held inside the colleges. Thus, female athletics was limited to college sports until the 1920s, when the Women’s Division of National Amateur Athletic Federation was created. It took the female sport to the intercollegiate level. With the introduction of basketball in 1892, the intercollegiate activity increased. Female college competitions became more popular in the early 20th century.

The Nineteenth Amendment if 1920 gave women a right to vote, which activated the movement for other female freedoms including participation in sports. Still, the situation did not change much until World War II when the first professional women athletic team appeared.

Since 1966, a Commission on Intercollegiate Sports for Women took care of intercollegiate competitions. As of 1969, the national championships included gymnastics and track and field for women. Some years later swimming, badminton, and volleyball were added.

In 1970s female sport was treated positively. The main focus was still not on winning but on the participation. The passage of Title IX was supposed to equal the women’s rights, but its implementation was not clear. Nevertheless, after Title IX, the participation of women and girls’ sports increased. In the early 1980s, women’s championships were included into National Collegiate Athletic Association program.

On the whole, the way of women into the sport was long and not easy. There were no possibilities to participate on equal conditions with men for a long time. Still, due to the feminist movements and Title IX, women became the equal participants of the sporting life.

World Cup Soccer Stats Erase the Sport’s Most Dominant Players: Women

In this article, Valerie Alexander shares her excitement about the World Cup. She played soccer in high school herself, so she knows what she is talking about. She gets angry with American soccer commentators who praise the male players. The statistics reveal that women often have better results but are not recognized. For example, the top-five of the goal scorers in soccer are women. It may be the result of various factors. Among them, there are higher-scoring games or longer women’s sports careers. Still, the fact is that four female soccer players are included into the world top 10 goal scorers, while the male player got just the 20th position.

The author does not disregard the outstanding results of male athletes. She is just against the male dominance in sports reports while women show equal or better results. Alexander claims that such injustice is observed in almost all sports. The exceptions are gymnastics and tennis, where female performance is obviously better.

It is not only the problem of sport. The prejudices are observed in other spheres, the court for example. Alexander states that it is necessary to break the belief that male’s position is just and objective only because it is male. The position the men take is not neutral. If there is a male point of view, another party, which is female, should also have an opportunity to speak. Men should have nave dignity to admit that someone may be more successful in the field.

“If I had a Choice, I Would…” A Feminist Poststructuralist Perspective on Girls in Physical Education

Many researchers admit little participation of girls in sport. Some of them observe the dominance of boys and, correspondently, the subordination of girls in sports activities. The article under analysis presents the results of a study that investigated the ways of school girls’ participation in physical education using the feminist poststructuralism. The study explored the negotiation of gender relations during the physical education classes in high school. The study was set in a public high school. It lasted for eight weeks. The scholars used the qualitative methods of research. They gathered the field notes and the interviews (both formal and informal) with 15 student girls from three classes and a teacher. A factor that differs the participants of this research was that the girls appreciated and liked physical activity. The researcher visited each class 10 times. The physical education classes were attended, and the girls were interviewed afterward. The obtained data underwent inductive and content analysis to figure out the categories and themes from the notes and interviews. The validity was checked with a cross-scale analysis.

The results revealed that the gender relations which girls observed restrain and promote their physical activity at the same time. On the one hand, they liked the physical education classes and found them enjoyable. On the other hand, they considered their activity restrained by the accepted gender issues.

The poststructuralist scheme allowed to observe the negotiation of gender relations in physical education classes which are similar to those of the society. Although the girls have various opportunities for participation in sports activities, they still observe gender barriers.

Sport, Theory and the Problem of Values

The reviewed chapter reveals the role of sport in the society’s perception of differences. In modern researches, sport is studied apart from the society. It is not correct for sport is a part of social life. The author attempts to suggest a theory to compose the analysis of sport, culture, and society. To analyze the role of sport in a particular country and society, some frameworks may be used. The first deals with functionalism. It includes the factions that sport fulfills, like socio-emotional, integrative or political. Symbolic framework discovers what sport mean to a person, the influence of interaction with people on the feelings about sport etc. The framework of interpretative sociology suggests the questions on the consciousness of athletes, the experience of their careers, and the representation of sports in te media. The process sociology framework helps to reveal the processes that influence the sports development, the level of violence in sport, sport’s globalization, etc. Another framework to discover sport is that of political economy. It deals with the incomes from sport, the exploitation of the people involved in sport and the trade of athletes. The most significant topics about the modern sport are as follows: the globalization, identity, social inequality, culture and power, and development and freedom. Every concept about the modern sport is worth of a separate research. Sport is the field where theory and practice should be closely connected and applied simultaneously.

The Media’s Sexualization of Female Athletes: A Bad Call for the Modern Game

For more than a century, the feminist activists have tried to increase the role of women in sport. Female athletes were often discriminated earlier in the society. The law that gave way for women in sport is Title IX of the Education Amendments. Due to it, the quantity of girls and women engaged in sport increased. With more women in the sports arena, another problem appeared. It is the sexualization of female athletes. One of the possible reasons for it may be the media attempt to distinguish the genders. Still, this fact may lead to the sexist traditionalism of the society. The sexualization in the media makes female athletes more popular but it distracts attention from their achievements. It may also reduce the ladies’ self-esteem. Besides, the media’s methods influence the spectators, misinterpreting the intended messages. Thus, the media do not inform the viewers but strengthen the stereotypes.

The Olympics’ Women Coverage

In the column reviewed, Jennifer Vanasco investigates the coverage of female athletes in the Olympic games in the media. She mentions that often the press concentrates rather women’s bodies than the achievements. While women joined the Olympics only in the 1990s, they are presented in all kinds of the sport now. Even women athletes from Saudi Arabia visited the Olympics, although their religion does not support such actions. The gender testing of female athletes appears to be the most shocking on the news. It was not just, for was applied only to women. The author claims that although female athletes were widely depicted in the media, their real victory will be when their achievements are in focus, not gender.

Women Play Sport, But Not on TV: A Longitudinal Study of Televised News Media

This research investigates the presentation of female athletes on television. The article critically appeals to the media supposing that they depict what the spectators want to see. The researchers apply both quantitative and qualitative analysis while observing six weeks of sports media coverage in Los Angeles. It revealed that women sports are broadcasted less than men’s. It proves that the media influences the sports audiences, for people watch what they are suggested. The female sports coverages are shorter and less informative. The commentators are gender oriented.

Missing in Action

The article by Ronald Bishop observes the coverage of female sports in the Olympics from 1956 to 1976 in Sports Illustrated magazine. Having analyzed 72 issues with 569 articles, the researcher singles out the increase in female sports coverage in the early 1990s. Still, the percentage of this coverage is not sufficient. The magazine did not reflect the growing popularity of female sports and the increase of women participation in various competitions. Their success and accomplishments were minimized. Besides, the quantity of women’s photos decreased as well. A possible reason for such results may be the fact that most of the Sports Illustrated readers are men. Thus the magazine meets their interests. Thus, the Sports Illustrated magazine does not fulfill its function of broad sports coverage.

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IvyPanda. (2020, September 9). Women's Participation in Sport Throughout History. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/womens-participation-in-sport-throughout-history/

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"Women's Participation in Sport Throughout History." IvyPanda, 9 Sept. 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/womens-participation-in-sport-throughout-history/.

1. IvyPanda. "Women's Participation in Sport Throughout History." September 9, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/womens-participation-in-sport-throughout-history/.


IvyPanda. "Women's Participation in Sport Throughout History." September 9, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/womens-participation-in-sport-throughout-history/.


IvyPanda. 2020. "Women's Participation in Sport Throughout History." September 9, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/womens-participation-in-sport-throughout-history/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'Women's Participation in Sport Throughout History'. 9 September.

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