Women and Sports

History of Sports

Sports in the USA

Women and Sports

Popular Sports


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Women and Sports

Women have come a long way in their struggle for recognition in the world of sports. Names like Jackie Joyner-Kersee , Billie Jean King and Babe Zaharias being back some proud moments in the history of women sports. Kersee is considered one of the greatest woman athletes during 1980s-1990s. Jackie Kersee flaunted the Glamour magazine in 1992 with her firm muscles that started a new fitness trend for American women.

While Billie Jean King brought a new name and fame to sports and to tennis with her superb performance. She also helped establish Player’s union and professional women’s tour during the early stages of Equal Rights Amendment in 1970s in her fight against unequal pay. Babe Didrikson Zaharias is one of the greatest athletes in history. She has been nicknamed after Babe Ruth for her extraordinary performance. An overall athlete, she outperformed at different sports like baseball, basketball, track and field, swimming, skating, and golf. Babe was founder of the LPGA tour in the 1930s and '40s.

Womens sports did not pick up very quickly. It was a long century old struggle over women rights, changes in legislation and endless fights before they saw some hope. One major landmark decision took place in 1972 when according to Title IX, the law gave unreserved and mandated rights to women in school athletics. It has not been an easy journey since then. Even today, women do not get equal facilities and media coverage as men sports. It is still a long way to the point when women would stand free of male-dominance in the field of sports. But a beginning has been made and the first steps look promising.

Women Rights in a country like US can be linked to history of women athletes. There are some shining names like Anna Karnikova, Althea Gibson, Mia Hamm, Martina Navratilova, Serena and Venus Williams that never fail to inspire the spirit of sports.

Snippets from women history of sports up to 1970s,

396 B.C. - Spartian princess Kyniska won an Olympic chariot race. She was barred from collecting her prize in person.

1704 - Sarah Kemble Knight rides alone on a horseback from Boston to New Haven and then New York. She published her travel experience in 1825 in a journal called the Journal of Madame Knight.

1811: The first known women's golf tournament was held at the Musselburgh Golf Club in Scotland

1896 – A woman named Melpomene ran the same course as men after being barred from official race during first modern Olympics in Athens, Greece. She finished the race in 4 hours 30 minutes.

1897 - Lena Jordan is the first person to successfully execute the triple somersault on the flying trapeze in the history of sports.

1898 - Lizzie Arlington becomes the first woman to enter into a professional baseball contract. She showed up in her first professional game pitching for the Philadelphia Reserves.

1900: Charlotte Cooper becomes the first woman to win an Olympic gold medal.

1907:First women's bowling leagues are started in St. Louis, Missouri.

1909: Twelve women compete in the first women-only auto race

1912: Fanny Durack from Australia competed in 100 m freestyle swimming to win and become the first female champion. She wore a long woollen swimsuit with a skirt. Her time was the same as the men's winner.

1936: Sonja Henie becomes the first woman ever to win three Olympic gold medals in individual figure skating competition.

1938: Tennis champion Helen Wills Moody wins eighth ladies' singles title at Wimbledon.

1943: The All American Girls Professional Baseball League was established. In its height of popularity, the league consisted of 10 teams. The teams had about one million fans.

1957: Althea Gibson became the first colored woman tennis player to win Wimbledon and Forest Hills.

1967: Kathryn Switzer becomes the first woman to officially enter the Boston Marathon. She finished in four hours and 20 minutes.

1968: A sex chromatin test for women athletes is introduced as a precondition for Olympic competition.

1972: A major ruling signed by President Richard M. Nixon. The federal law Title IX prohibited gender discrimination in schools and colleges with federal funding.

The establishment of US Women’s sports Foundation in 1974 opened new avenues for other countries like UK and Japan. They formed their own Women Foundations without official ties. Women’s sport history gained recognition when Women’s sports Foundation was conferred the status of UN Economic and social council. The Council has the sole aim of encouraging participation of women in sports all around the world and to ensure that sports acts as an essential medium for addressing women issues globally.

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