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Girl and the Game

Girl and the Game: A History of Women's Sport in Canada

Copyright Date: 2002
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  • Book Info
    Girl and the Game
    Book Description:

    The Girl and the Gametraces the history of women's organized sport in Canada from its early, informal roots in the late nineteenth century through the formation of amateur and professional teams to today's tendency to market women athletes, especially Olympians, as both athletic and sexual.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-0211-3
    Subjects: Sociology, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-VI)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. VII-VIII)
  3. Preface and Acknowledgements
    (pp. IX-XII)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    The history of modern sport is a history of cultural struggle. Privileged groups in our society — seemingly by consent — are able to establish their own cultural practices as the most valued and legitimate, whereas subordinate groups (like women) have to fight to gain and maintain control over their own experience, and at the same time have their alternative practices and activities recognized as legitimate by the dominant culture. Sport in our culture is still viewed by many as a “masculinizing project,” a cultural practice in which boys learn to be men and male solidarity is forged. It remains...

  5. CHAPTER 1 Early Beginnings: The “New Woman” and Athleticism
    (pp. 15-40)

    As the last decade of the nineteenth century came to a close, Victorian women rode their bicycles to physical emancipation and dress reform, forever changing the look and style of women’s sport in Canada. This was the era of the New Woman, the one leaving behind the fragile stereotype of her earlier, domestic sister and marching determinedly towards more education, work, service, and suffrage. As one historian observed, the bicycle extended “her sphere across the threshold, for in loosening her stays and dividing her skirts, the New Woman also took possession of her own movements and achieved a measure of...

  6. CHAPTER 2 Assuming Control: Women’s Sport Run (Almost) By Women
    (pp. 41-72)

    On 12 May 1922, a little known women’s basketball team left Edmonton to make the long train journey east to play the London Shamrocks for the first Dominion women’s basketball championship. Before 1,500 spectators, the Edmonton Commercial Graduates beat the Shamrocks 41–8 in the first game, played under the six–player “girls” rules to the advantage of the western team. The Grads went down to defeat 21–8 in the second game, mainly because the five-player “boys” rules were used to the Shamrocks’ benefit. When the Grads returned 10 days later, having won the title on overall points, a...

  7. CHAPTER 3 Girls Shouldn’t Do It!: Debates over Competition and Sexuality
    (pp. 73-103)

    Canadian women physical educators who travelled and studied in the United States in the 1920s and 1930s were well aware of the influential Women’s Division of the National Amateur Athletic Federation and its philosophy towards women’s athletics. Created in 1923, it was a large umbrella organization of state and city departments of physical education, recreation associations, colleges and universities, public and private schools, and organizations like the Girl Scouts, Camp Fire Girls, and YWCAs.¹ Although headed by Lou Hoover, leader of the Girl Scouts and wife of President Herbert Hoover, leadership came from the ranks of increasing numbers of professionally-trained,...

  8. CHAPTER 4 Sweetheart Heroines: Athletic and Lovely
    (pp. 104-134)

    The Valentine tribute to Canada’s most loved sweetheart of the postwar era, figure-skater Barbara Ann Scott, ran in the normally staid national magazineSaturday Night. The full-page coverage featured a stunning photo of the skater taken by famous Ottawa photographer Yousuf Karsh. Dressed in an off-the-shoulder, white ruffled frock, and exquisite necklace, with a crown of tiny flowers in her hair, she was the epitome of loveliness and femininity. Surrounding the picture were hearts, stars, frilly lace, and a line drawing of a costumed skater performing a graceful skating pose. Her athleticism erased, Scott’s physical beauty was the centrepiece of...

  9. CHAPTER 5 Serious Athletes or “Oddballs”?: Transitional Years
    (pp. 135-160)

    Jack Batten went on to say that sport fans in Canada “have been forced to make some radical adjustments in their outlook on the country’s women athletes.” Why? It was because they were winning more world-class championships and capturing more individual titles than Canada’s male athletes had done in the same time period. Taking into account that the number of events for men was approximately twice that for women at major international games, they outperformed their male counterparts at nearly all these games in the 1960s and 1970s. Canadian women consistently won a greater proportion of medals at these competitions...

  10. CHAPTER 6 Feminist Activism: Inching Towards Gender Equity
    (pp. 161-187)

    By the mid-1970s, Abby Hoffman’s long and distinguished track career was coming to an end. She competed in one more Olympics (her fourth) in Montreal in 1976, where she was chosen to carry the Canadian flag in the opening ceremonies. Always political, articulate, and independent, she was increasingly an outspoken voice for the plight of amateur athletes in Canada, especially women. Through newspaper and magazine articles, radio commentaries, and public speaking, like Bobby Rosenfeld, Alexandrine Gibb, Myrtle Cook, and Phyllis Griffiths before her, she took on the male sports media by challenging their sexist and stereotypical portrayals of female athletes;...

  11. CHAPTER 7 The Commodification of Physicality: 1990s and Beyond
    (pp. 188-211)

    There is no question that women athletes today experience more competitive and professional opportunities than ever before. Teitel also argued that compared to men their exploits on the court or rink or field are more fun and interesting to watch, more like the games of the past, before the days of mass entertainment and spectacle. While men have literally outgrown many of their traditional sports, like basketball, hockey, golf, and tennis, women have been slowly growing into them. Male professional athletes, he suggested, have “outstripped in size and speed the confines of the standard playing spaces that define their games”...

  12. Epilogue
    (pp. 212-216)

    As the days of 2000 dwindled down, the print and broadcast media were rife with lists and rankings of the millennium’s best athletes and teams, as well as the most memorable sporting events. Grandiosely claiming that few Canadian cities could match Edmonton’s rich sporting heritage, theEdmonton Journalran a special series profiling the city’s greatest athletes, teams, coaches, and sporting movers and shakers. National newspapers provided similar features, although less parochial in scope, and TSN broadcast a six-part retrospective entitled “100 Years of Canadian Sports” (also available on home video). Based on the names, lists, stories, and photos in...

  13. Endnotes
    (pp. 217-252)
  14. Sources
    (pp. 253-276)