"The solemn periodic manifestation of male sport based on internationalism, on loyalty as a means, on arts as a background, and the applause of women as a recompense."
Baron Pierre de Coubertin
Founder Of Modern Olympics Games
Since the watershed Title IX in 1972, the growth of women's athletics has seen the explosion in participation of women of all ages in previously male-dominated sports. We have the WNBA, Winter and Summer Olympics, volleyball, softball, surfing, rodeo, tennis, etc.-all have thousands, if not millions, of female athletes enjoying, competing and living their dreams.
On The Rise
With this growth in participation in sports, the rise in the incidence of injuries has taken a dramatic turn, not in the favor of women. Female athletes are 5-6 times more likely to have a knee injury. A study by the NCAA reveals that female athletes have a 1 in 10 chance of knee injuries or about 10,000, of which 2,200 resulted in Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) rupture. The average cost is $17,000 for each athlete, or $37 million a year. Factor in high school athletics and it rises to 20,000 injuries and over $100 million.
This series of articles will examine a brief history of female athletics from ancient times until 1972; Title IX and the growth of female athletics; the growth of female athlete knee injuries; and the program to help in the prevention of these injuries while at the same time increase on-the-field performance.
Brief History Of Women's Athletics
- 1500 BC - Female bull jumpers in Crete defy death
- 1000 BC - Atalanta out wrestles Peleus - women only Herean games
- 440 BC - First sex tests keep women out of Olympics
- 1424 AD - Madame Margot outplays Parisian men in jeu de paun
- 1805 AD - Sophie Blanchard solos in gas powered balloon
- 1849 AD - Bloomer created by feminists
- 1900 AD - Women's events in Olympics, tennis and golf
- 1932 AD - Amelia Earhart solos Atlantic
The bicycle was introduced in 1894 and the physicians printed an article stating that bicycling was not a danger to the female (imagine the furor at a Spinning class). The dress of the day was a full wool dress, summer or winter, that could be buckled about the legs (so not to expose the risqué ¡nkles) and, for the scandalous ladies, "bloomers," an invention of the feminists in the 1840s, could be worn at the risk of her reputation.
All Around Competitors
Women's basketball was first played in 1892 at Smith college, with almost the same apparel as the bicycler, indoors and outdoors on grass. The Amateur Athletics Union (AAU) was formed in 1888 with Women's Sports added in 1922.
The first male pro baseball players were with the Cincinnati Red Stockings in 1869, female in 1875. The baseball uniform of the day weighed in at almost 30 pounds and consisted of floor length skirt, long sleeve, high neck blouse and high button shoes.
The female baseball players barnstormed across America challenging local teams. They later adopted the bloomers as more suitable wear and were called "bloomer girls" (Rogers Hornsby of St Louis got his start as a male competitor of the bloomer girls). Their story was told in the movie of 'A League of Their Own', the league started by Wrigley of the gum empire.
The Rodeo has been part of the mythology of the "Old West" as a test of the cowboy's grit and skill since after the Civil War. Buffalo Bill's Wild West show had the female as the doting wife until the advent of Annie Oakley. After her popularity increased the number of females included trick riders, and other rodeo-like participants.
In the 1920s and 30s, the Golden Age of the girl's rodeo, they toured the world. In 1913, Tillie Balwin beat all male comers in the Roman Race (one foot on one horse, the other on another horse). Will Rogers coined the word "cowgirl" for the abilities of Lucille Mulhall, a rodeo champion.
In the next article we will look at one of the greatest female athletes and the impact of Title IX.
- Cincinnati Sportsmedicine Research and Education Foundation