Qualifying Times: Points of Change in U.S. Women's Sport

University of Illinois Press
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This perceptive, lively study explores U.S. women's sport through historical "points of change": particular products or trends that dramatically influenced both women's participation in sport and cultural responses to women athletes.

Beginning with the seemingly innocent ponytail, the subject of the Introduction, scholar Jaime Schultz challenges the reader to look at the historical and sociological significance of now-common items such as sports bras and tampons and ideas such as sex testing and competitive cheerleading. Tennis wear, tampons, and sports bras all facilitated women’s participation in physical culture, while physical educators, the aesthetic fitness movement, and Title IX encouraged women to challenge (or confront) policy, financial, and cultural obstacles.

While some of these points of change increased women's physical freedom and sporting participation, they also posed challenges. Tampons encouraged menstrual shame, sex testing (a tool never used with male athletes) perpetuated narrowly-defined cultural norms of femininity, and the late-twentieth-century aesthetic fitness movement fed into an unrealistic beauty ideal.

Ultimately, Schultz finds that U.S. women's sport has progressed significantly but ambivalently. Although participation in sports is no longer uncommon for girls and women, Schultz argues that these "points of change" have contributed to a complex matrix of gender differentiation that marks the female athletic body as different than--as less than--the male body, despite the advantages it may confer.
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About the author

Jaime Schultz is an assistant professor of kinesiology and women's studies at Penn State University.
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Additional Information

Publisher
University of Illinois Press
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Published on
Mar 15, 2014
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Pages
304
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ISBN
9780252095962
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Social History
Social Science / General
Social Science / Women's Studies
Sports & Recreation / History
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Although girls and women account for approximately 40 percent of all athletes in the United States, they receive only 4 percent of the total sport media coverage. SportsCenter, ESPN's flagship program, dedicates less than 2 percent of its airtime to women. Local news networks devote less than 5 percent of their programming to women's sports. Excluding Sports Illustrated's annual "Swimsuit Issue," women appear on just 4.9 percent of the magazine's covers. Media is a powerful indication of the culture surrounding sport in the United States. Why are women underrepresented in sports media? Sports Illustrated journalist Andy Benoit infamously remarked that women's sports "are not worth watching." Although he later apologized, Benoit's comment points to more general lack of awareness. Consider, for example, the confusion surrounding Title IX, the U.S. Law that prohibits sex discrimination in any educational program that receives federal financial assistance. Is Title IX to blame when administrators drop men's athletic programs? Is it lack of interest or lack of opportunity that causes girls and women to participate in sport at lower rates than boys and men? In Women's Sports: What Everyone Needs to Know®, Jaime Schultz tackles these questions, along with many others, to upend the misunderstandings that plague women's sports. Using historical, contemporary, scholarly, and popular sources, Schultz traces the progress and pitfalls of women's involvement in sport. In the signature question-and-answer format of the What Everyone Needs to Know® series, this short and accessible book clarifies misconceptions that dog women's athletics and offers much needed context and history to illuminate the struggles and inequalities sportswomen continue to face. By exploring issues such as gender, sexuality, sex segregation, the Olympic and Paralympic Games, media coverage, and the sport-health connection, Schultz shows why women's sports are not just worth watching, but worth playing, supporting, and fighting for.
Although girls and women account for approximately 40 percent of all athletes in the United States, they receive only 4 percent of the total sport media coverage. SportsCenter, ESPN's flagship program, dedicates less than 2 percent of its airtime to women. Local news networks devote less than 5 percent of their programming to women's sports. Excluding Sports Illustrated's annual "Swimsuit Issue," women appear on just 4.9 percent of the magazine's covers. Media is a powerful indication of the culture surrounding sport in the United States. Why are women underrepresented in sports media? Sports Illustrated journalist Andy Benoit infamously remarked that women's sports "are not worth watching." Although he later apologized, Benoit's comment points to more general lack of awareness. Consider, for example, the confusion surrounding Title IX, the U.S. Law that prohibits sex discrimination in any educational program that receives federal financial assistance. Is Title IX to blame when administrators drop men's athletic programs? Is it lack of interest or lack of opportunity that causes girls and women to participate in sport at lower rates than boys and men? In Women's Sports: What Everyone Needs to Know®, Jaime Schultz tackles these questions, along with many others, to upend the misunderstandings that plague women's sports. Using historical, contemporary, scholarly, and popular sources, Schultz traces the progress and pitfalls of women's involvement in sport. In the signature question-and-answer format of the What Everyone Needs to Know® series, this short and accessible book clarifies misconceptions that dog women's athletics and offers much needed context and history to illuminate the struggles and inequalities sportswomen continue to face. By exploring issues such as gender, sexuality, sex segregation, the Olympic and Paralympic Games, media coverage, and the sport-health connection, Schultz shows why women's sports are not just worth watching, but worth playing, supporting, and fighting for.
Although girls and women account for approximately 40 percent of all athletes in the United States, they receive only 4 percent of the total sport media coverage. SportsCenter, ESPN's flagship program, dedicates less than 2 percent of its airtime to women. Local news networks devote less than 5 percent of their programming to women's sports. Excluding Sports Illustrated's annual "Swimsuit Issue," women appear on just 4.9 percent of the magazine's covers. Media is a powerful indication of the culture surrounding sport in the United States. Why are women underrepresented in sports media? Sports Illustrated journalist Andy Benoit infamously remarked that women's sports "are not worth watching." Although he later apologized, Benoit's comment points to more general lack of awareness. Consider, for example, the confusion surrounding Title IX, the U.S. Law that prohibits sex discrimination in any educational program that receives federal financial assistance. Is Title IX to blame when administrators drop men's athletic programs? Is it lack of interest or lack of opportunity that causes girls and women to participate in sport at lower rates than boys and men? In Women's Sports: What Everyone Needs to Know®, Jaime Schultz tackles these questions, along with many others, to upend the misunderstandings that plague women's sports. Using historical, contemporary, scholarly, and popular sources, Schultz traces the progress and pitfalls of women's involvement in sport. In the signature question-and-answer format of the What Everyone Needs to Know® series, this short and accessible book clarifies misconceptions that dog women's athletics and offers much needed context and history to illuminate the struggles and inequalities sportswomen continue to face. By exploring issues such as gender, sexuality, sex segregation, the Olympic and Paralympic Games, media coverage, and the sport-health connection, Schultz shows why women's sports are not just worth watching, but worth playing, supporting, and fighting for.
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