Women in Sports

A history of sport and women in sport in the United States illustrates how various social, economic, and political institutions impact the individuals who participate in sport. Historically, women have often been viewed as inferior to men with respect to physical prowess and athletic competition. Such values have been reinforces by a number of social, economic, and political institutions, from legislation and religious institutions to the media and athletic organizations. Without doubt, political institutions have had an enormous impact on women in sport and not always for the worse. According to Struna (2003), federal legislation like Title IX "has been credited with much of the growth in women's sports in the United Sates, [and] it has also helped to influence thinking about women's sports elsewhere in the world" (1221).

Political institutions are broader than just government and the courts. Colleges and universities are an important political voice as are the upper-classes whose women were primarily responsible for the entrance of women into sports via various clubs and organizations. Lower-class women were often denied access to such sporting organizations and clubs. As Struna (2003) argues, "Middle- and upper-class womenÓhad access to the broadest range of sports and other recreations" (1222). This analysis will address the influence of political institutions on women in sports.

The influence of legislation on women's participation in sports can



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