ABSTRACT

Oh, the rest of this book is about women also. This is not a replication of the standard sociology/psychology of sport undergraduate text with one chapter on women, one chapter on blacks, and the rest of the text on what Mal Andrews called "business as usual" (Andrews, 1974). When one embarks upon a psychological analysis of virtually any construct deemed influential in sport performance today, the underlying mechanisms for males and females appear to be very similar. The obvious exception in sport, as it was in Maccoby and Jacklin's general analysis of the psychology of sex differences (1974), is the aggression construct. What, then, is this chapter uniquely about? Comparable to the sport aggression variable, the other variable that demands special analysis for the sexes is gender identity. In the entire history of sport in western cultures, we see an activity that was only appropriate for males. I have argued elsewhere for the labeling of traditional sport as a sexual signature of masculinity (Oglesby, 1985). Don Sabo (1985), a pioneer in the analysis of male gender identity and sport states,

For females, on the other hand, the situation could hardly be more different. Sporting activity, in general, has been negatively encoded in

female gender appropriate schemas; it was the "not me". Sport was the domain of boys and tomboys, the latter a special status for females usually traded in at puberty. All this having been said (indeed partly because of it), women have a fascinating sporting history. The early centuries were peopled with extraordinary women for whom the common rules and customs never applied. During the last 100 years in this country, an elaborate "sport-for-women," quite apart from traditional sport, was created to provide opportunities for the masses of females without violating social norms relating to gender. A brief chronology of women's sport history must be presented along with a description of the important values and policy distinctions of sport-for-women. This history is not common knowledge even to those who study sport, yet it is only with a sense of this context that we can understand the agony and polarization that have marked the transitions in conceptions of gender identity and sport in the past decade. This chapter concludes with an assessment of a sporting society poised at a crossroad where unexamined choices can extinguish the potential resource of the play/sport environment as surely as defoliation destroys rain forests and pesticides almost left us with the "silent spring" (Carson, 1962).