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The History of Women in Sports
5 minute read · Issue Number 65 · April 23rd, 2021
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There is evidence that women engaged in sports three millennia ago as Homer (800 B.C.) relate the story of Princess Nausicaa playing ball with her handmaidens next to a river on Scheria.
“When she and her handmaids were satisfied with their delightful food, each set aside the veil she wore: the young girls now played ball; and as they tossed the ball…” (Homer, 98-102)
Today’s chapter of the magazine will feature the history and development of women and gender inequality in sports.
Let’s jump right in!
The History of Women in Sports
During most modern history, women in sports have been fighting for their right to play.
Before 1870, sports for women were nothing more than informal recreational activities.
Society believed that each human had a fixed amount of energy.
If people used this energy for physical and intellectual tasks simultaneously, it could be dangerous, especially for women (because of menstruation).
The crazy part?
Some women “threatened” the status quo by proving they could perform physical activities without harm. Still, lunatic scientists came up with manipulated proofs to reinforce the dogma and prevent women from participating in competitive sports.
With time, more women wanted to get involved in physical activity.
So what happened next?
Similar to what black communities did in the late 1800s and early 1900s, women began forming informal athletic clubs. Tennis, croquet, bowling, and archery were some of the popular ones.
The first Olympic Games to feature female athletes was the 1900 Games in Paris — which featured twenty-two women.
Hélène de Pourtalès of Switzerland became the first woman to compete at the Olympic Games.
Competitive events for women increased, and through the first few decades of the century, men’s clubs slowly allowed women to become associates and participate in different activities.
By 1920, with the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in the US (equal rights to vote regardless of sex), the feminist movement gained strength in sports.
The following 30 years were relatively dormant for women in sports because of the great depression and World War II.
After World War 2, the women’s movement in sport was rapidly moving toward a status more in line with men’s athletics.
The decades following WW2 gave birth to millions of women athletes, teams, and leagues almost everywhere worldwide.
Nevertheless, the fight is not over yet — there still are lots of gender inequalities in sports today.
Male athletes in basketball, golf, soccer, baseball, and tennis made anywhere from 15 percent to 100 percent more than female athletes.
The number of opportunities, the amount of media coverage, and the inclusion in executive roles are other inequalities in sports.
Women’s involvement in sports was slow to develop. Opportunities for participation and recognition were almost non-existent for centuries.
Nevertheless, we must keep fighting for equality because women deserve the same treatment as males in sports and everywhere else.
🎙 Halftime Snack of the Week
This week’s episode features Sean Leary, also known as "the Mark Zuckerberg of sports."
Sean founded Sports Thread — the social network for athletes — when he was 22 years old.
Sean is also a former Division I baseball player for Oral Roberts University and won two NCAA conference championships.
In our conversation, we snacked about being a professional athlete, the story and focus of Sports Thread, recruitment, covid, technology, and more.
Check out the transcript of the conversation here.
🎤 Cherry and Timber Talk; I’m not so familiar with cricket, but I enjoyed the unbiased opinions, insights & analysis of this podcast. Check it out and let me know what you think.
🏋🏻♂️ Effects of Fatigue on Performance; Fatigue is the critical driver in exposing weaknesses and deficiencies in athletes’ performance. Strive worked with coaches and players to strengthen their muscles in symmetric ways.
📩 Techstadium; Literally my favorite latest discovery. Techstadium is a newsletter that dives (for real) into the intersection of business strategy, sports, and technology. Sounds familiar? Go subscribe.
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Until next week,
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