At this point in the lecture I raised my hand, and knowing Dr. Birrell was greatly invested in athletics, I asked, "What about a new "feminine" vision of sports? Can we add "play" to these aspects of living that will be transformed by cultural feminist thought? Is there a "feminine" way of playing basketball that is defined by women and not by men?"
The discussion that followed was lively and enlightening, but ultimately unsatisfying, and so I decided to tuck away in the back of my mind this question and explore it more fully when I had the time and resources.
Now is that time, and so I present today the questions that I have been exploring for the last several months to this body of teachers of English phrased to address our specific concerns:
The first observation I made from my readings was that images of female athletes in YA sports fiction generally fall into three "Sports Illustrated" categories: (1) The girl who is trying to succeed on a boys’ team, (2) the girl participating in an "individual" sport: tennis, swimming, gymnastics, track, and (3) the girl participating in a team sport. The covers exemplify the types of female athletes present in much of the literature that I read. (As an aside, SI featured women on the cover eight times in the past twelve months—one of which of course was the swimsuit issue.)
For example, one of the early concerns of allowing girls to compete in "boys’" athletics was the fear that the girls would move from femininity to "musculinity" (Hargreaves 145) and thus challenge not only the boys’ site of empowerment (the playing field) but also society’s notions of gender identity. Male athletes have always been idealized as strong, aggressive, and muscular. This popular symbol of masculinity is in contrast to the popular symbol of femininity, weak, passive, and Kate Moss thin. Basketball rules for girls in the early 1900s discouraged passing the ball with two hands because it tended to cultivate flat chests and round shoulders and no woman could afford to be flat-chested (Festle 31). Girls’ rules in basketball until fairly recently reflected a societal belief that it was dangerous for girls (for either physical or sexual reasons) to touch one another, or to achieve too much by herself. Hence a girl could not play both offense and defense and could dribble only two or three times before passing. The rules effectively prevented an individual female from achieving too much by herself, and created a game that was slower and less physically demanding than the boys’ game and more team oriented than the male version. The girls’ rules implied that while passivity, weakness, and large busts were attractive; muscles, aggression, and individual achievement were ugly. Benjamin Spock discouraged girls from being too competitive because it led so many of them to become disagreeable (Nelson, Embracing Victory 7). Thus any adolescent girl who dared to defy the rules and the baby doctor and enter into the male sports domain ran the risk of being labeled masculine or lesbian. The athlete also had to assume the masculine rules, discourse, ideology and behaviors of the sports patriarchy. Note how Sports Illustrated describes Pat Summitt, the successful Tennessee basketball coach. "This woman [has] never raised a lacard or a peep for women’s rights, [has] never filed a suit or overturned a statute or gave [sic] a flying hoot about isms or movements, this unconscious revolutionary [is] tearing up the terrain of sexual stereotypes and seeding it with young women who have an altered vision of what a female can be" (Smith 100). The tearing up the terrain and seeding images suggest that the "altered vision of what a female can be" is "a man." And the author describes Summitt as a female Bobby Knight who "overpowers nature," and "out-muscles time." In other words, girls can come into the sports world, but it is still a "male" world, and they must talk the male talk and walk the male walk.
This risk is played out in several YA books where the female protagonist challenges the restrictions placed upon her by society and plays with the boys. In Zanbanger by R.R. Knudson, 1977, (The title alone could serve as the subject of another essay.) Zan completely rejects the philosophy of her female basketball coach who, echoing the basketball guidelines of the AIAW in the 1950s which severely penalized girls who fouled, says, "We’re all gals here, not boys. For us, basketball is not a rowdy game…nor is it a contact sport" (16). Zan accepts instead the boys’ basketball coach’s philosophy as her own: "Second best is nothing. Winning’s not a matter of life or death. It’s more important than either" (21). Zan’s acceptance of the masculine definition of competition appears even in the personal voice she uses in her journal: "Yesterday in English, we started work on the exclamation point. My favorite punctuation. Yea. Now Tuesday. Coach drilled us forever on penetrating zone defenses" (133).
In Zanbanger, Knudson exposes as ridiculous the arguments used by some to keep men and women’s sports separate. In court testimony, Dr. Ableson (another name that begs to be deconstructed) says: "To begin with, there are medical reasons. Ladies—girls are not built the same as boys. Girls are softer, more tender and delicate; boys are tough—stronger, faster, quicker. Girls would sustain massive injuries if they were permitted to engage in athletics on the same teams with boys. That would mean girls would have to play against boys as well as with them…Girls would become unfeminine. They would grow muscular and unattractive. Lumpy, perhaps" (79). While recognizing the absurdity in Dr. Ableson’s argument today (although it rings strangely familiar with Newt Gingrich’s recent comments regarding women participating in military combat ) we may fail to note that Zan has completely accepted and adopted the male models of achievement, models that include some of the meaner "Lombardi" aspects of competitive behavior. Zan understandably in 1977 neither challenges the masculine premises of sports nor attempts to redefine them. Instead she repeats the same old message; she makes the same mistakes.
The challenge of the female athlete to participate competitively in athletics ("throw like a boy") while maintaining an alternative identity or voice is present in many YA works with a female athlete protagonist. For example, in High and Outside by Linnea Due, 1980, Nikki assumes many of the more despicable behaviors of any athlete. She gets kicked out of a softball game for fighting with an opponent, and she wears her wounds like badges of honor. ""It'’ll give me a rakish look," she says. "Like those guys with the scarred cheeks in Germany" (75). She antagonizes her teammates by trying to win the games by herself. Her coach calls her the Lone Ranger and threatens to suspend her because she comes to practice drunk. Her father, demonstrating another typically masculine behavior, "never give up," berates her when she does quit the team. "You get beat up a little, and you quit," he says scornfully (77).
In The Broadway Ballplayers: Friday Nights by Molly, 1998, Molly, who also has fist fights with other girls, is absolutely humorless in her approach to competition, and she refuses to see her opponent as an individual. "The Hawks were already waiting at center circle. I walked right past Tasha. I could feel her eyes on me. But I continued to ignore her. I wasn’t there to fight. I was there to play. And to win" (150).
In "Posting Up," a short story by Stephanie Grant, Theresa Meagher struggles in competition because she is reluctant to "dominate" her opponent, to see her opponent as an enemy. "Here it is again," she says. "How could I possibly compete against such goodness? How could I fake left, all the while knowing that I would be moving to my right, digging my shoulder into Mary Jude as I pivoted, and lightly pushing the ball into the basket? How could I leave her standing there, as people had so often left me, mouth agape, embarrassed, wondering what had just happened? How could I press my advantage knowing the punishment she would take from her teammates, punishment I knew only too well?" (43-44). Theresa, like many female athletes in the books I read, was ambivalent about competition because she knew what it was like to be dominated by others. Theresa’s thought is representative of women who as a group have been losers in the game of sexism, and who are thus reluctant to assume the win-at-any-cost mentality. Nikki, Molly, and Theresa did not imagine a different view of sports—to appreciate competition as a process, an opportunity to excel with others, and a chance to connect with others in a spirit of teamwork.
In most YA works that deal with a female athlete participating in an individual sport, the protagonist can maintain the balance of athleticism and femininity by ice skating in a sequined costume or tumbling to music in a "uniform" that enhances her little girl image. But many of these athletes are still torn between accepting a definition of athletics that demands that she win at all costs and not tolerate others winning, and a definition of athletics that embraces the connection of the athletes to the process of competing together. These female athletes balk at continuing in an activity that is laden with military jargon and violence. And their frustration and anxiety is many times manifested in the novels by psychological or physiological disorders: self mutilation in The Luckiest Girl in the World, myotonic dystrophy in Silver Blades: On the Edge, and anorexia nervosa in The Best Little Girl in the World.
In Tessa Duder’s novel, In Lane Three Alex Archer, 1987, Alex wants desperately to win, to do her best, but she also wants to break from the "us versus them" mentality in swimming competition. "Did there always have to be winners and losers?" she wonders. Alex’s dilemma is complicated by the feminine role she is expected to assume, and the heterosexual identity she is expected to represent. "You must decide, girls," says her school counselor, "Do you want to strive towards degrees, diplomas, achievements, to be a career girl? Or the greater and more realistic satisfaction of motherhood and family?" (38). At school Alex explains to a friend how she learned of the question of her sexuality: "I would go to my first dance and someone would whisper that Alex Archer was really rather a mannish sort of girl with her broad shoulders and flat chest and slim hips and long legs, always hugging other girls after her races—and nothing would ever be quite the same again" (50 ).
Although the lesbian "problem" is not explicitly played out in Norma Fox Mazer’s short story "Cutthroat," it is implicit, and Jessie concludes that a sports rival need not be the enemy, competition need not preclude intimacy, and winning and/or losing need not result in being alone. "But the truth was that, as soon as she said it, she felt much better and loved Meadow again and knew she always would. How could she not love her—they had been friends now for seven years, half her lifetime. Yes, she would love Meadow and keep her for a friend, no matter what. Even if, she thought, she was beaten at cutthroat every week of her life, she would still love Meadow" (158).
Mariah Burton Nelson, a former Stanford University and professional basketball player, provides a gynocentric definition of sports, competition, and winning in her books that any teacher of English could appropriate in the teaching of gender differences in YA sports fiction. Her titles include Embracing Victory: Life Lessons in Competition and Compassion, New Choices for Women; The Stronger Women Get, the More Men Love Football: Sexism and the American Culture of Sports; and Are We Winning Yet? In Embracing Victory, Nelson redefines competition as a process whereby the athletes seek excellence together, not against each other. She redefines winning as the power to do something rather than the power over someone. Nelson claims that a "feminine" notion of sports requires compassion in a competitive relationship, a sense of humor in winning or losing, and ultimately courage in the risk of playing the game. This risk, which is frightening and yet exhilarating, includes recreating the image of the athlete and competition.
In my review of YA sports fiction I found several examples of Nelson’s vision of sports, a vision she labels "the Champion’s way."
The first title that I recommend is an anthology of short stories edited by Joli Sandoz, A Whole Other Ball Game: Women’s Literature on Women’s Sport, 1997. A caveat is appropriate here, however, because this anthology is not specifically YA literature. But, all of the stories are excellent, several of them could be used in a middle school setting, and many of them illustrate Nelson’s feminine sports ideology. For example, again in "Posting Up," Theresa learns that a "champion’s way" requires a healthy self-esteem, a recognition of one’s own competence, and a courageous willingness to take a chance. "There was something peculiar about [the girls]. Something I couldn’t quite name," she says. "They were women, not girls. For the first time I saw the difference…There was a sturdiness about them, a sense of commitment to life, like at one point they each had made a conscious decision to stay alive. They had made choices" (55).
In Carol Anshaw’s "October 1968, Mexico City (From Aquamarine)," Jesse places second in the 100-meter dash to an Australian swimmer, Marty. In the water Marty reaches over the lane marker to wrap an arm around Jesse’s shoulders. "It’s a cross-chest carry of sorts, a gesture to bring Jesse up with her. Amazingly, it works. Jesse can feel her spirit grabbing onto Marty’s, and for this moment at least believes they’ve won, that together they’ve beat out the competition, that the two of them are laughing together in the hilarious ozone just above the plane of regular mortals" (80). Jesse and Marty delineate "self" through connection. Marty wins the race but she does not humiliate Jesse. Marty and Jesse are separate competitors, but the are also connected in their mutual desire to excel, to challenge each other, to cheer for whoever succeeds.
Toni Cade Bambara’s short story, "Raymond’s Run" illustrates this same definition of "self" through connection with another. "Hazel Elizabeth Deborah Parker wins the race. In second place Miss Gretchen P. Lewis. And I look over at Gretchen wondering what the ‘P’ stands for. And I smile. Cause she’s good, no doubt about it. Maybe she’d like to help me coach Raymond; she obviously is serious about running, as any fool can see. And she nods to congratulate me and then she smiles. We stand there with this big smile of respect between us. It’s about as real a smile as girls can do for each other, considering we don't practice smiling every day, you know, cause maybe we're too busy being flowers or fairies or strawberries instead of something honest and worthy of respect...you know…like being people" (19). Gretchen is not what Nelson calls a "Cheerleader" (Embracing Victory 26-30). She is not on the sidelines; she runs the race. She is not in a subordinate role; she supports her competitor. She is not selling her sexuality; she proves her athleticism.
A fourth example in A Whole Other Ball Game of Nelson’s feminine vision of sport is "Diamonds, Dykes, and Double Plays" by Pat Griffin, a hilarious short story that actually spoofs in many ways Nelson’s definitions. The protagonist, who has known she was a lesbian since she was about twelve years old, moves to Northampton, Massachusetts, because she hears it’s a great place to be queer. She joins a lesbian softball league but is shocked as she listens to the league rules: "(1) We basically play fast-pitch rules, but if the batter thinks the pitcher is too fast, she has to slow it down; (2) It is totally unacceptable to ride the other team; we are to treat them as sisters; (3) Everyone will play equal amounts of time regardless of skill; (4) We will take turns being coach; (5) No men are allowed to umpire games; and (6) We all must wear clothes to play" (200). Although the narrator laughs at her teammates named Morningdew and Moonwolf, and although she prefers going out for a beer rather than "processing the experience" after a game, she still at the end of the season recognizes that all of the "womon" have learned something about the challenges and joys that come from redefining sports. "After I got home that night," she says, "I realized what a good time I’d had. Everything was still a little odd and I knew there was still a lot I didn’t understand about playing softball in Northampton. The rest of the team wanted to pick hand signals, though, and start putting coaches on first and third when we were up at bat. This was hopeful" (210).
In The Stronger Women Get the More Men Love Football, Nelson argues that feminism is about bodies and that in sports women get a chance to recognize and enjoy their own physical natures: graceful, expansive, experimental, joyful, sensuous (33). In the short story "Posting Up," Theresa learns to appreciate the female body. "From the ground, everything finally made sense. I knew what Kate meant by being in one’s body: I was in mine. I looked up at the calves and thighs surrounding me. These women were in every inch of theirs. They seemed completely without fear: of their bodies, of each other, of their desires. I could see that they even liked their bodies, which is what at first seemed so peculiar. I had never met a woman who liked her own body" (58). The female athlete and her body have generally been contested ideological terrain in sports. The images of the female in sport are most often understood in their relation to the male images. The female participant is generally measured as smaller, weaker, and inferior to the idealized male participant. Male coaches and athletes have often denigrated the female body with vulgar epithets or derogatory slurs used to motivate (Weiller and Higgs 67). This fall the Louisville football coach, John L. Smith, castigated his athletes saying, "We looked like a bunch of girls out there. No offense. Don’t take this the wrong way, but we looked like a bunch of sissies out there trying to tackle." But Theresa successfully subverts these common practices and popular symbols by repossessing her own body, discovering for herself the beauty of the female athlete.
In conclusion I would like to share with you two more titles of YA works that I feel would be appropriate resources in any junior high or senior high discussion of gender issues in sports. One is a recent title, Bat 6, 1998, by Virginia Euwer Wolff who is in Nashville; and the other is an older title, Tell Me if the Lovers are Losers, 1982, by Cynthia Voigt. Bat 6 is the story of an annual girls’ softball game played by sixth graders in two schools from neighboring communities. The story is told in a journal format with the voices of the different girls revealing the significance of the game and its aftermath. I liked the book for various reasons, but especially because it breaks the stereotype of girls not being willing or able to dedicate themselves to athletics. These girls know softball; they talk softball; they play softball well. They are committed athletes. But these are also girls who truly use sports as a means of learning poise by handling adversity, gaining discipline by sacrificing for others, and attaining self esteem by achieving success in cooperation with all.
In the voices of the girls:
My last recommendation, Tell Me if the Lovers are Losers, is also notable because of the absence of male voices and because of the power and potential of the female voices. Nikki, Ann, and Hildy are roommates at Stanton College, a women’s liberal arts college on the East Coast. Nikki’s approach to volleyball (and indeed to life in general) is to take no prisoners. She’s aggressively competitive. "You’ve got to let people know you’re worth fearing," she tells Ann. "You’ve got to get to the head of things" (14). "The secret is to hate the opposition. There’s only so much hatred people can withstand…You have to break them in order to win" (100).
Contrasted to Nikki’s aggressiveness is Ann’s passivity. Nikki takes showers. Ann bathes. Nikki digs and spikes. Ann sets. Nikki wears boys’ sneakers. Ann wears preppy loafers. Nikki "doesn’t bend before anything." Ann goes to extreme lengths to accommodate everyone. She just wants everyone to get along. "Peace is what I want," she says. "Serenity, security, balance—So, I’ll take volleyball, whatever you say. How did that decision become so serious? (46)"
Ann is both fascinated with Nikki’s strength and appalled by her insensitivity. She is able to resolve the apparent conflict of masculinity and femininity through the third roommate, Hildy. Hildy, who because of impaired vision literally does not see the world in the same way others see it, redefines how the girls approach playing volleyball. She explains to Nikki her philosophy regarding winning and losing. "Neither is important, not really. I like to win. But—I like to play. If you play well you win, usually. If you play well and lose, then it will still be a good game" (Voigt 35). Hildy defines competition as a process of seeking excellence together. In her vision of the game, the distinction between friend and enemy is indeed blurred. "It is easier to see the play when I cannot discern faces," she says. "It is all soft, smooth, simple. I see what will happen and what has happened. The ball floats to me, like a little cloud. It is still, without glasses. There is no winning, no losing, just the play itself." Ann and Nikki recognize (although slowly) that Hildy’s perception of why the girls play volleyball (and indeed why anyone plays any sport) is radically different from anything they have ever known. "Well, you break all the rules," Nikki says. "You’re the exception."
Hildy is the exception, and from her the girls learn new rules to life, a new discourse, a new appreciation of their bodies, and a new understanding of relationships. When Ann puts on Hildy’s glasses, when she sees life as Hildy sees it, then the rules change and she comprehends the unity within the community. "She could see how things would go, one or two plays ahead of each particular shot. She saw the juniors move together for defense, the freshmen move forward for offense. Then the patterns would alter slightly, and the freshmen were in danger. It was if she could see through to the essence of the game" (155). The girls’ communication becomes a series of silent signals on the court, an intuitive semiotic discourse. "Ann sensed that Hildy knew what she was thinking, what play she would make, not so difficult, after all, when Ann knew only two plays, sideways or forward. But the four other girls also seemed able to know what she was thinking. And more surprising, she was able to guess what they would do too" (54). Ann’s embarrassment of her body evolves to an appreciation of the female body. "Hildy had finished her bath. She stood naked, except for glasses, by Nikki’s desk. Her flesh glowed pink and white. My God, women are beautiful, Ann thought," (157). All of the volleyball players begin to see themselves paradoxically as separate individuals living in connection with others. "Sarah and Ruth and Bess came by, grim and depressed. Eloise left Ann with them while she went to pack a suitcase for herself and gather together her books. Ann chattered, her voice high. Sarah and Ruth and Bess chattered back. Together they managed to fill the room with bright chips of sound. But Ruth came to sit beside Ann on the bed and their forearms touched until all four girls fell silent. For a minute then, Ann felt swathed, swaddled, by unspoken understanding, a deep female belonging, a feeling she had sensed seeing cows huddled together on the ground awaiting rain. A sisterhood" (185).
I highly recommend this 1982 novel by Cynthia Voigt as an excellent example of a "feminine" approach to sports. It is a rich, challenging, and provocative novel.
Many women have indeed moved beyond the male sports model and have generated a list of principles that they emphasize in intercollegiate sports ("Empowering Women in Sports"):
I read a student’s essay recently that reminded me of the importance of recognizing an alternative vision of sports. Amy wrote a narrative about playing in a high school basketball game, a game that she did not play well, a game that her team lost. She wrote that after the game her father (she describes him as her "wannabe agent") shouted at her: "’What the hell were you doing out there?’ I sank in my seat trembling with fear. His eyes were like little beads, a stream of sweat streaked down his forehead, his face red with anger. I couldn’t even let out a squeak. He roared at me, harping about not shooting, not passing, not dribbling with desire. He shouted, ‘If you don’t work to be the best, then don’t play.’
"He lectured me on not concentrating, not playing up to my ability, not really wanting to win. I burst into tears and as soon as we got home I ran to my room. With a loud slam of the door, I heaved myself on my bed and buried my face in my pillow. A sense of shock rushed throughout my entire body. I felt as if a knife had stabbed me in the heart. Not only did I fail in the game that I loved, but I shamed my father by not giving 110 percent.
"Today I realize why my dad was so infuriated. I didn’t demonstrate the qualities of the child he desired: determination, integrity, and a supreme work ethic. He wanted to reinforce these values that I needed to be strong…I respect my dad for igniting a fire that burns deep inside of me. I knew he cared for me. He wanted me to be the best I could be.
"If having to be punished was a way to pound a lesson of life into my head, then I guess the punishment had a purpose. I never want to be punished that way again. I try hard now at every obstacle thrown my way. If the task becomes overwhelming, I still trudge forward…"
I was tempted to say to Amy, but I did not, "Have you ever imagined that it was wrong for your father to yell at you? Have you ever considered how a person might develop a positive work ethic without being threatened and bullied? Have you ever envisioned an alternative to anger, to humiliation, to abuse? In other words, have you ever though that your father’s definition of who you are as an athlete and a woman may not be your definition? Amy did not see herself as victimized by father; yet if she does not define herself and her sport, then she will continue to be defined by others—for their use and perhaps to her detriment.
Bambara, Toni Cade. "Raymond’s Run," in A Whole Other Ball Game: Women’s Literature on Women’s Sport, Joli Sandoz, editor. New York: Noonday Press, 1997.
Calvert, Stephen J., editor. Best Books for Young Adult Readers. New Providence: R.R. Bowker, 1997.
Donovan, Josephine. Feminist Theory: The Intellectual Traditions of American Feminism. New York: Continuum, 1991.
Duder, Tessa. In Lane Three, Alex Archer. New York: Bantam Books, 1987.
Due, Linnea A. High and Outside. San Francisco: Spinsters/Aunt Lute, 1980.
"Empowering Women in Sports," <http://www.feminist.org/research/sports8a.html>
Festle, Mary Jo. Playing Nice: Politics and Apologies in Women’s Sports. New York: Columbia U P, 1996.
Grant, Stephanie. "Posting Up," in A Whole Other Ball Game: Women’s Literature on Women’s Sport, Joli Sandoz, editor. New York: Noonday Press, 1997.
Hargreaves, Jennifer. Sporting Females: Critical Issues in the History and Sociology of Women’s Sports. London: Routledge, 1994.
Higgs, Catriona T. and Weiller, Karen H. "Female Learned Helplessness in Sport: An Analysis of Children’s Literature," JOPERD. August, 1989.
Holohan, Maureen. The Broadway Ballplayers: Friday Nights by Molly. Wilmette, Illinois: The Broadway Ballplayers, Inc., 1998
Hurlburt, Tom. "Up for Discussion: Slam Dunks and Strikeouts: The Status of Sports Fiction," School Library Journal. July, 1992.
Nelson, Mariah Burton. Embracing Victory: Life Lessons in Competition and Compassion, New Choices for Women. New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1998.
__________. The Stronger Women Get, the More Men Love Football: Sexism and the American Culture of Sports. New York: Avon Books, 1994.
Smith, Gary. "Eyes of the Storm," Sports Illustrated. December, 1998.
Voigt, Cynthia. Tell Me if the Lovers are Losers. New York: Random House, 1982.
Wolff, Virginia Euwer. Bat 6. New York: Scholastic Press, 1998.
Young Adult Literature:
Blais, Madeleine. In These Girls, Hope Is a Muscle. New York: Warner Books, 1995.
Byallick, Marcia. It’s a Matter of Trust. Browndeer Press, 1995.
Cebulash, Mel. Ruth Marini of the Dodgers. Lerner Press, 1983.
__________. Ruth Marini: Dodger Ace. 1983.
__________. Ruth Marini: World Series Star. 1985.
Cooney, Caroline B. Nice Girls Don’t. 1984.
Corbett, Scott. The Hockey Girls. Dutton Press, 1976.
Duder, Tessa. In Lane Three, Alex Archer. New York: Houghton, 1989.
__________. Alex Archer in Rome.
Due, Linnea A. High and Outside. New York: Harper and Row, 1980.
Emerson, Mark. The Mean Lean Weightlifting Queen. Greensboro: Tudor Press, 1992.
Fisher, Lois. Sarah Dunes, Weird Person. New York: Putnam, 1981.
George, Jean. Hook a Fish, Catch a Mountain. Dutton Press, 1975.
Gregorich, Barbara. She’s On First. Contemporary Books, 1987.
Hall, Lynn. Tin Can Tucker. New York: Scribner’s, 1982.
Harlan, Elizabeth. Footfalls. New York: Atheneum, 1982.
Hart, Sharon M. Win or Lose. New York: Scholastic Inc., 1989.
Hermann, Spring. Flip City. Orchard Press, 1988.
Herzig, Alison. The Boonsville Bombers. New York: Viking, 1991.
Holohan, Maureen. The Broadway Ballplayers: Friday Nights. Wilmette, Illinois: The Broadway Ballplayers, Inc., 1998.
__________. Everybody’s Favorite. Wilmette, Illinois: The Broadway Ballplayers, Inc., 1998.
__________. Left Out. Wilmette, Illinois: The Broadway Ballplayers, Inc., 1998.
__________. Don’t Stop. Wilmette, Illinois: The Broadway Ballplayers, Inc., available soon.
__________. Sideline Blues. Wilmette, Illinois: The Broadway Ballplayers, Inc., available soon.
Jacobs, Helen Hull. The Tennis Machine. New York: Scribner’s, 1972.
Jorgensen, Dan. Dawn’s Diamond Defense. Chariot Press, 1988.
Kennemore, Tim. The Fortunate Few. Coward, 1981.
Klass, David. A Different Season. Lodestar Press, 1987.
Knudson, R.R. Fox Running. New York: Harper and Row, 1975.
__________. Zanbanger. New York: Harper, 1977.
__________. Zan Hagen’s Marathon. New York: Farrar, 1984.
__________. Zanboomer. New York: Dell, 1978.
__________. Zanballer. New York: Delacorte, 1972.
__________. The Zucchini Warriors. New York: Scholastic, 1988.
Lee, Marie G. Necessary Roughness. New York: HarperCollins, 1996.
Levenkron, Steven. The Best Little Girl in the World. New York: Penguin, 1989.
__________. The Luckiest Girl in the World. New York: Penguin Books, 1997.
Levy, Elizabeth. The Gymnasts: First Date. New York: Scholastic, 1990. (This is the 13th book in a series titled The Gymnasts.)
Lewis, Beverly. Only the Best (Girls Only No. 2). Bethany House, 1998.
Lord, Betty. In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson. New York: HarperCollins, 1984.
Lowell, Melissa. Gold Medal Dreams #1: On the Edge. New York: Skylark Book, 1997. (This is the first in a three-book series titled Silver Blades.)
Martin, Bill. Swish. Henry Holt and Company, 1997.
McDaniel, Lurlene. Someone Dies, Someone Lives. New York: Bantam Books, 1992.
McKay, Robert. The Girl Who Wanted to Run the Boston Marathon. Elsevier/Dutton, 1982.
Molarsky, Osmond. Scrappy. New York: Putnam, 1983.
Nauen, Elinor, editor. Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend: Women Writers on Baseball. Faber and Faber, 1995.
Sandoz, Joli, editor. A Whole Other Ball Game: Women’s Literature on Women’s Sport. New York: Noonday Press, 1997.
Spinelli, Jerry. There’s a Girl in My Hammerlock. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1991.
Towne, Mary. First Serve. New York: Atheneum, 1976.
Voigt, Cynthia. Tell Me If the Lovers Are Losers. New York: Atheneum, 1982.
Walker, Nicholas. Ice Dancing. New York: Scholastic, Inc., 1992.
AAUW Report: How Schools Shortchange Girls. A joint publication of the AAUW Educational Foundation and National Education Association. 1992.
"Booksearch: In this Olympic Year, What Books about Sports Would You Recommend for Your Students?" English Journal. April, 1988.
Calvert, Stephen J., editor. Best Books for Young Adult Readers. New Providence, New Jersey: R.R. Bowker, 1997.
Girls in Schools: A Bibliography of Research on Girls in U.S. Pulbic Schools Kindergarten through Grade 12. Published by the Wellesley College Center for Research on Women. 1992.
Hall, M. Ann. Feminism and Sporting Bodies: Essays on Theory and Practice. Human Kinetics, 1996.
Hargreaves, Jennifer. Sporting Females: Critical Issues in the History and Sociology of Women’s Sports. New York: Routledge, 1994.
Higgs, Catriona T. and Weiller, Kaaren H. "Female Learned Helplessness in Sport: An Analysis of Children’s Literature, JOPERD. August, 1989, 65-67.
How Schools Can Stop Shortchanging Girls (and Boys): Gender Equity Strategies. Published by the Center for Research on Women. 1993.
Hurlburt, Tom. "Slam Dunks and Strikeouts: The Status of Sports Fiction," School Library Journal. 38, July, 1992, 30-31.
"In this Olympic Year, What Books about Sports Would You Recommend for Your Students?" English Journal. 77, April, 1988, 82-85.
Kiernan, Denise. "Word May Be Out, But Schoolgirls Need to Get Message," The New York Times. June 22, 1997. 146.1.19.
Mangan, J.A. and Park, Roberta J., editors. From ‘Fair Sex’ to Feminism: Sport and the Socialization of Women in the Industrial and Post-Industrial Eras. Frank Cass Press.
"Media Mirror: Sports Pages Still a Bastion of Maleness," The Quill. June, 1994, 82.5, 22.
Olsen, Lyle. "Sport and Literature: the Best of Both Worlds," The College Board Review, 131, spring, 1984, 20-24.
Rueth-Brandner, Teri. "Sports Fiction for Young Women: Not Enough of a Good Thing," Voice of Youth Advocates. 14, June, 1991, 89-90.
Salter, David F. Crashing the Old Boys’ Network: The Tragedies and Triumphs of Girls and Women in Sports. Praeger Publishers, 1996.
Salwen, Michael B. and Wood, Natalie. "Depictions of Female Athletes on Sports Illustrated Covers, 1957-1989," Journal of Sport Behavior. June, 1994, 17.2, 98.
Steinberg, Renee. "Striking Out Stereotypes: Girls in Sports Fiction," School Library Journal. 36, June, 1990, 62-63.
Troike, Dorothy R. "Sports Fiction: Reflecting Life’s Challenges," Media and Methods. 25, May/June, 1989, 27.
"USA: The Impact of 25 Years of ‘Title IX’ on Women Sports," WIN News, summer, 1997, 23.3, 66.
A valuable website for "girls and sports" is <http://www.amazon.com>