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WOMEN AND SPORTS 1920-1955. OVERVIEW-1. WOMEN & SPORTS IN THE 1920s SWIMMING RECORDS/ MEDIA SUCCESS TENNIS STARS TRACK & FIELD COMPETITIONS BABE DIDRIKSON. OVERVIEW-2. WOMEN AND WWII SOFTBALL LEAGUES PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL FOR WOMEN, COMMERCIAL SUCCESS

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overview 1
OVERVIEW-1
  • WOMEN & SPORTS IN THE 1920s
  • SWIMMING RECORDS/ MEDIA SUCCESS
  • TENNIS STARS
  • TRACK & FIELD COMPETITIONS
  • BABE DIDRIKSON
overview 2
OVERVIEW-2
  • WOMEN AND WWII
  • SOFTBALL LEAGUES
  • PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL FOR WOMEN, COMMERCIAL SUCCESS
  • “PLAY LIKE MEN, LOOK AND ACT LIKE WOMEN” BASEBALL POLICIES
  • APPEARANCE AND MORAL RULES
  • GIRLS BASEBALL LEAGUE DECLINE
  • LEGACIES OF FIRST WOMEN TEAM PROFESSIONAL SPORT
media and women s sports 1920s
MEDIA AND WOMEN’S SPORTS 1920s
  • BY THE 1920s SEVERAL GENERATIONS OF FEMALE ATHLETES HAVE ALREADY MADE SIGNIFICANT PROGRESS IN DIFFERENT COMPETITIVE SPORTS, IN PARTICULAR SWIMMING, TENNIS AND TRACK & FIELD.
  • IN THE CONTEXT OF THE WOMEN’S SUFFRAGE MOVEMENT, MEDIA BEGAN TO GIVE WOMEN ATHLETICS SOME RECOGNITION AND COVERAGE.
  • AMERICAN WOMEN WHO HAD BEGUN SWIMMING IN YWCAs, COLLEGE AND ATHLETIC CLUBS WERE IN A POSITION TO CHALLENGE PREVALENT STEREOTYPES ON WOMEN AND SPORTS.
  • IN 1924 SYBIL BAER BROKE THE MEN’S RECORD IN BACKSTROKE, REACHING AUTOMATICALLY CELEBRITY STATUS.
  • A SECOND DEVELOPMENT TOOK PLACE IN 1926 WHEN GERTRUDE EDERLE CROSSED THE ENGLISH CHANNEL
women and sports 1920s
WOMEN AND SPORTS 1920s
  • SWIMMING RECORDS GAD GREAT SOCIAL SIGNIFICANCE AND RECEIVED WIDE COVERAGE IN PRESS AND RADIO.
  • IN THE INTERNATIONAL ARENA, AMERICAN FEMALE TENNIS PLAYERS INCREASED THEIR PRESENCE AND BECAME DOMINANT FIGURES.
  • CALIFORNIAN NATIVE HELEN WILLS REACHED A STAR STATUS, AFTER HER MEMORABLE MATCHES AGAINST EUROPEAN STARS.
  • WOMEN’S VOTING RIGHTS MOVEMENT ENERGIZE THE PARTICIPATION OF WOMEN IN SPORTS ALTOGETHER.
  • SUZANNE LENGLEN vs. HELEN WILLS TENNIS MATCHES WERE PRESENTED BY THE MEDIA AS INTERNATIONAL BATTLES BETWEEN FRANCE AND THE U.S.
women and the olympic movement
WOMEN AND THE OLYMPIC MOVEMENT
  • ORIGINAL OLYMPIC GAMES IN ATHENS 1896 WERE ONLY FOR MALE ATHLETES.
  • THE FIRST DECADES OF THE 20TH CENTURY WOMEN PARTICIPATED IN OLYMPIC GAMES FOR ONLY TENNIS AND GOLF.
  • LATER GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING AND ARCHERY.
  • THE 1928 OLYMPIC GAMES IN AMSTERDAM WERE SURROUNDED BY STRONG CONTROVERSIES AS THE INTERNATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEE REFUSED TO ALLOW WOMEN IN THE TRACK & FIELD COMPETITIONS.
  • INTERNATIONAL FEMALE ATHLETES DEMANDED A 10-EVENT PARTICIPATION IN TRACK & FIELD. THE IOC REFUSED, SO AN INTERNATIONAL BOICOTT WAS ORGANIZED. ALTHOUGH SOME COUNTRIES SEND WOMEN IN THEIR DELEGATIONS, THE BOICOTT WAS DEEMED ONLY A PARTICAL SUCCESS.
  • THE 1932 OLYMPIC GAMES IN LOS ANGELES INCLUDED TRACK & FIELD EVENTS FOR WOMEN IN ONLY THREE CATEGORIES.
babe didrikson super star
BABE DIDRIKSONSUPER STAR
  • IN A PROCESS SIMILAR TO PARTICIPATION IN SWIMMING, AMERICAN FEMALE ATHLETES INCREASED SIGNIFICANTLY THEIR PRESENCE IN TRACK & FIELD COMPETITIONS IN THE 1920s.
  • AS TRACK & FIELD BECOME A REGULAR FEATURE IN COLLEGIATE AND AMATEUR COMPETITIONS FOR WOMEN IN THE U.S. THE QUANTITY AND QUALITY OF ATHLETES EXPERIENCED A DRAMATIC INCREASE.
  • IN THE EARLY 1930s BABE DIDRIKSON WAS THE MOST DOMINANT ATHLETE IN TRACK & FIELD EVENTS BOTH IN THE UNITED STATES AND WORLDWIDE.
  • DIDRIKSON BROKE NATIONAL, OLYMPIC AND WORLD RECORDS IN SEVERAL TRACK & FIELD EVENTS.
  • DIDRIKSON DOMINATED IN THE TRACK & FIELD EVENTS IN THE 1932 OLYMPIC GAMES.
babe didrikson
BABE DIDRIKSON
  • BORN IN TEXAS (BEAUMONT), MULTI-SPORT STAR IN HIGH SCHOOL (SWIMMING, TENNIS, BASKETBALL, VOLLEYBALL, GOLF).
  • U.S. TRACK & FIELD CHAMPIONSHIP IN 1932 BROKE FOUR WORLD RECORDS AND WON SIX GOLD MEDALS.
  • BECAME A CELEBRITY AFTER THE 1932 OLYMPIC GAMES
didrikson shows
DIDRIKSON SHOWS
  • 1934 STAR IN HER MEN & WOMEN ITINERANT BASKETBALL TEAM.
  • 1935 MLB SPRING TRAINING CAMPS TOUR, PITCHER, VERY SUCCESFUL. MLB COMMISSIONER PROHIBITED THE PARTICIPATION OF WOMEN IN TRAINING SEASON AFTER SEING HER.
  • BARNSTORMING BASEBALL TEAMS
  • LATE 1930s PROFESSIONAL GOLFER
  • HER IMAGE IN THE MEDIA WAS A THE “BOGEYMAN FOR WOMEN IN SPORTS”
  • DESPITE BEING ONE OF THE MOST TALENTED ATHLETES OF THE CENTURY, SHE WAS REGULARLY PRESENTED AS THE “MASCULINE” WOMAN BY THE MEDIA. DIED OF CANCER IN HER FORTIES.
women and world war ii
WOMEN AND WORLD WAR II
  • SIGNIFICANT ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL TRANSFORMATIONS IN THE 1940s MADE POSSIBLE THE CREATION OF THE FIRST PROFESSIONAL TEAM SPORT FOR WOMEN IN THE UNITED STATES: BASEBALL.
  • AS LARGE NUMBERS OF MEN PARTICIPATED IN THE MILITARY DRAFT, THE WAR EFFORT AT HOME OPENED GREAT ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITIES FOR AMERICAN WOMEN.
  • MILITARY INDUSTRY, AUTOINDUSTRY. STEEL INDUSTRY, MANUFACTURING INDUSTRY, IN THE GREAT LAKES, CALIFORNIA, AND NATIONWIDE, HIRED LARGE NUMBERS OF WOMEN FOR BLUE AND WHITE COLLAR POSITIONS: ROSY THE RIVETEER.
  • SUCH MASSIVE PARTICIPATION OF WOMEN IN THE LABOR MARKET, PROVIDED THEM: ECONOMIC INDEPENDENCE, LEISURE TIME, DISCRETIONARY INCOME. AMERICAN WOMEN BECAME A DISTINGUISHABLE CONSUMMER GROUP
women and world war ii1
WOMEN AND WORLD WAR II
  • AS MORE AND MORE AMERICAN YOUNG WOMEN REACHED ECONOMIC INDEPENDENCE AND SOLID POSITIONS IN THE NATIONAL ECONOMY, THEY ALSO ARTICULATED WAYS TO ORGANIZE LEISURE AND ATHLETIC ACTIVITIES IN URBAN AREAS, MORE IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE NEW TIMES. AMERICAN WOMEN WERE IN A POSITION TO SUPPORT AND SPONSOR ORGANIZED SPORTS FOR WOMEN, BOTH AS ATHLETES AND FANS.
  • TENNIS AND GOLF WERE TWO OF THE MOST POPULAR SPORTS.
rise of softball
RISE OF SOFTBALL
  • SINCE THE 1930s SOFTBALL HAVE BECOME A FAVORITE PAST TIME IN INDUSTRIAL, CHRISTIAN, RECREATIONAL AND ETHNIC LEAGUES. SOFTBALL WAS CONCEIVED LESS AGGRESSIVE THAN BASEBALL, LESS COMPETITIVE AND MORE FRIENDLY.
  • 1934 AMATEUR SOFTBALL ASSOCIATION CREATED TO ORGANIZE LEAGUES AND TOURNAMENTS . THE ASSOCIATION UNDERWENT A HUGE TRANSFORMATION IN ITS NUMBERS: FROM 1 TO 9 MILLION PLAYERS BOTH MALE AND FEMALE.
  • IN THE LATE 1930s POPULAR INTEREST IN WOMEN’S SOFTBALL WAS LARGE ENOUGH TO SUPPORT THE FORMATION OF SOME SEMI PROFESSIONAL FEMALE TEAMS IN THE UPPER MIDWEST, 4 OF WHICH WERE BASED IN THE CHICAGO AREA.
  • SOFTBALL FOR WOMEN WAS PERCEIVED AS AN IDEAL TEAM SPORT IN TERMS OF PROVIDING A MODERATE EXERCISE, NON-VIOLENT AND NON-STRENOUS ACTIVITY, IN A WAY SIMILAR TO THE BERENSON RULES FOR WOMEN’S BASKETBALL.
reactions to women s softball
REACTIONS TO WOMEN’S SOFTBALL
  • ALTHOUGH INITIALLY THERE WERE MIX REACTIONS TO WOMEN’S SOFTBALL, PUBLIC OPINION WAS FOR THE MOST PART FAVORABLE TO THE SPORT.
  • IT WAS THOUGHT TO HELP WOMEN TO “KEEP FEMININE FIGURE”
  • IT WAS SEEN NOT AS COMPETITIVE AS BASEBALL
  • FOR SOME CRITICS, HOWEVER, SOME PLAYERS ABANDON “LADYLIKE” MANNERS AND OCCASIONALLY “PLAY AND LOOK LIKE MEN”
  • THEREFORE SOFTBALL RULES SHOULD BE CONSTANTLY MODIFIED FOR WOMEN, FOLLOWING BASKETBALL MODEL.
  • DESPITE CRITICISM, SOFTBALL FOR WOMEN WAS ENORMOUSLY POPULAR AS A TEAM SPORT FOR MIDDLE AND LOWER CLASSES IN URBAN AREAS.
all american girls softball league 1943 1955
ALL-AMERICAN GIRLS SOFTBALL LEAGUE 1943-1955
  • CREATED IN 1943 BY PHILIP K. WRIGLEY AND ARTHUR MEYERHOFF, AAGSL AS ONE OF THE ALTERNATIVES TO THE MAJORLEAGUE BASEBALL CRISIS DUE TO THE ENROLLMENT OF MOST THE MALE STARS IN THE MILITARY CONFLICT.
  • ORIGINALLY A MERE REACTION TO MALE BASEBALL SOCIOECONOMIC CRISIS, THE AAGL SOON BECAME A VERY PROSPEROUS LEAGUE AND FORM OF ENTERTAINMENT.
  • 1945 MEYERHOFF ONLY OWNER, SWITCHED THE GAMES FROM SOFTBALL TO BASEBALL, MAKING IT THE ALL AMERICAN GIRLS BASEBALL LEAGUE (AAGBL) AND THEN NATIONAL GIRLS BASEBALL LEAGUE.
  • 4 TEAMS (KENOSHA, RACINE, SOUTH BEND AND ROCKFORD). IN THE REMAINING YEARS OF THE DECADE THE AAGBL GENERATED SIGNIFICANT INTEREST IN THE PUBLIC AND REVENUE IN THE BOX OFFICE.
national girls baseball league
NATIONAL GIRLS BASEBALL LEAGUE
  • LEAGUE’S GREAT ECONOMIC SUCCESS, 10 TEAMS, +1 MILLION ATTENDANCE
  • INSPIRED BY THE MODIFICATION PRINCIPLE, THE LEAGUE CHANGED IN VARIOUS OCCASSIONS THE RULES OF MALE PRO-BASEBALL (PITCHING AND BASES-DISTANCE, BALL SIZE, ETCETERA.
  • TO THE SURPRISE OF MANY, THE LEAGUE WAS APPEALING TO MALE AND FEMALE CROWDS AND CREATED A RESPECTABLE INTEREST IN THE MEDIA BY USING MLB ADVERTISING STRATEGIES. THE LEAGUE MADE A CONSISTENT EFFORT TO PITCH WOMEN’S BASEBALL NOT ONLY AS AN ATHLETIC COMPETITION BUT ALSO AS A FORM OF ENTERTAINMENT THAT HIGHLIGHTED THE PLAYERS’ BEAUTY AND SEX APPEAL.
women s baseball success
WOMEN’S BASEBALL SUCCESS
  • CONTRAST BETWEEN “MASCULINE” ATHLETIC SKILLS AND “FEMININE” BEAUTY, “MEN’S GAME PLAYED BY NORMAL WOMEN”
  • BASEBALL WILL NOT HARM, CHANGE OR DIMINISH PLAYERS’ FEMININE CHARACTERISTICS
  • COACHES FORMER MLB PLAYERS
players
PLAYERS
  • “THE MORE FEMININE THE APPEARANCE OF THE PERFORMER, THE MORE DRAMATIC THE PERFORMANCE”
  • BASES FOR RECRUITMENT: FEMININITY WITH SKILL
  • NO ATHLETIC TALENT WITHOUT SEX APPEAL
  • NO WOMEN OF COLOR
appearance rules
APPEARANCE RULES
  • TRAINING INCLUDED “MANDATORY CHARM SCHOOL” (MAKE UP, TABLE MANNERS, POSTURE, FASHION) BY BEAUTICIANS FROM H. RUBINSTEIN SALON
  • ANY IMITATION OF MEN’S STYLE IN HAIR, FASHION FORBIDDEN
  • RULES ON NAILS, HAIRDO, MAKE UP, AND PUBLIC APPEARANCES
  • MEN SHOES, SHORTS, JEANS, T-SHIRTS BANNED.
moral rules
MORAL RULES
  • NO DRINKING, NO SMOKING.
  • SOCIAL ACTIVITIES AND LIVING CONDITIONS ONLY WITH TEAM’S APPROVAL. PLAYERS SHOULD “LOOK AND ACT LIKE WOMEN”
  • SAFEGUARDING THE FEMININITY AND MORAL REPUTATION OF PLAYERS
  • “NO FREAKS OR AMAZONS”
  • FEMINIZED TEAM NAMES: BELLES, DAISIES, PEACHES, LASSIES
aagbl market strategies
AAGBL MARKET STRATEGIES
  • SPRING TRAINING
  • FILM NEWS
  • REGULAR MLB PROMOTIONS
  • SCOUTING AND RECRUITMENT FROM INDUSTRIAL AND MUNICIPAL LEAGUES
  • ENTERTAINMENT BASED ON SKILLS AND SEX APPEAL
women s baseball decline in post war years
WOMEN’S BASEBALL DECLINE IN POST WAR YEARS
  • LITTLE LEAGUE GENDER SEGREGATION RULES, 1939-1974.
  • DECLINE IN INDUSTRIAL LEAGUES, WOMEN WORKERS REPLACED BY RETURNING VETERANS
  • WOMEN’S RETURN TO “DOMESTIC CHORES”
  • DECLINE IN SPORTS PARTICIPATION, PLAYGROUND, CITY LEAGUES
  • INCREASE MLB ATTENDANCE
women s baseball legacy
WOMEN’S BASEBALL LEGACY
  • FIRST PROFESSIONAL COMPETITIVE TEAM SPORT FOR WOMEN
  • FIRST W-SPORT WITH FINANCIAL SUCCESS
  • TIES BETWEEN DISCRETIONARY INCOME, FREE TIME AND PROFESSIONAL SPORTS.
  • ORGANIZED, CONTROLLED AND OWNED BY MEN.
slide23

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE AAGBL. WATCH “A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN: THE DOCUMENTARY” (1987) OR THE 1992 BLOCKBUSTER “A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN” WITH TOM HANKS, GEENA DAVIS AND MADONNA.

  • CHECK THE OFFICIAL WEBSITE OF THE ALL AMERICAN GIRLS BASEBALL LEAGE AT www.aagpbl.org