Nike Is a Goddess: The History of Women in Sports

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9780871137265: Nike Is a Goddess: The History of Women in Sports

Fourteen female sportswriters trace the growth of women's sports over the past century, from baseball to swimming to gymnastics, highlighting the pioneering athletes who changed the image of the female athlete and the professionalization of the games.

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Both a gathering and a celebration, Nike brings together some of the best women writers on sports to chronicle, sport by sport, the struggles and the politics that permeate the arena, and the achievements of the achievers who've broken through to rise above. "The story of women in sports," writes former Stanford basketball star Mariah Burton Nelson in the introduction, "is a personal story, because nothing is more personal than a woman's bone, sinew, sweat and desire, and a political story, because nothing is more powerful than a woman's struggle to be free."

Sport by sport, the history of women in sports unfolds in sweeping, breezy narratives: Shelley Smith on basketball, Grace Lichtenstein on tennis, Malanie Hauser on golf, Amy Nutt on baseball, Karen Karbo on swimming, Kathleen McElroy on track and field--and the list goes on. And, of course, heroes emerge: Babe Didrikson Zaharias, Althea Gibson, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Gertrude Ederle, Billie Jean King, and scores of others who've slipped through memory's net and are finally rescued here.

Clearly assembled to inspire, Nike indeed does. But it also instructs. "This book shows what women can do when they work hard, when they team up, when they hurdle the barriers that are placed in front of them," writes Nelson. "It's about them, but it's also about us. By revealing their past, it points the way toward our future." And in Nike, so much of what's revealed borders on revelation. --Jeff Silverman

From the Back Cover:

With the launching of women's professional leagues, the success of Olympic gold medal women's teams, and a new focus on female athletes in the media, women's sports have finally received the attention they have long fought for and rightfully deserve. As women's sports have come into their own, thousands of young girls around the country have taken to their local soccer fields and basketball courts and found new role models in the sports figures who inspire them. With this recent explosion in popularity, there comes a need for a history of the women who have made it possible, pioneers like Babe Didrickson Zaharias, Billie Jean King, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, and Sheryl Swoopes, who played the sports and the politics and made names for themselves in doing so. In a series of thirteen original narratives, each on a particular sport and focusing on the top female athletes who were the foremost figures in their arena, Nike Is a Goddess captures the profound changes women's sports have undergone and pays tribute to the remarkable athletes who led the way.

Nike Is a Goddess reveals the dramatic story of the rise in women's sports from the early 1900s when athletic options for women were severely limited and competition was actually discouraged, to more recent years when women compete in as many sports as men and prize their powerful bodies and competitive spirits. While the essays are profile driven, the stories also reveal cultural nuances and give historical perspectives: Gertrude Ederle swam the English Channel in 1926, a time in America when women who removed their stockings to swim were arrested for "nude" swimming; Billie Jean King, the jock advocate for women's lib, beat Bobby Riggs in the Battle of the Sexes in 1973 when women's tennis had few endorsements and little prize money; and the women of the WNBA and ABL draw record crowds and rich salaries, attaining a level of cultural significance in the world of sports equal to that of men. Written by top female sportswriters from such prestigious publications as The Miami Herald, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Women's Sports & Fitness, and Sports Illustrated, Nike Is a Goddess is an inspiring and significant commemoration of a chapter in American history that has never before been written.

"The story of women in sports is a personal story, because nothing is more personal than a woman's bone, sinew, sweat, and desire, and a political story, because nothing is more powerful than a woman's struggle to run free."-from the Introduction by Mariah Burton Nelson, author of The Stronger Women Get, the More Men Love Football and Embracing Victory

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