History of Women in Sports

History of Women in Sports
Lou Hoover: Sports and Popular Culture

Skill: Middle School
Time Required: Two Days


The 1920’s was a decade in which amateur sports blossomed primarily due to press and radio coverage.  One controversy that arose was the role of women in sports.  The Vice President of the National Amateur Athletic Federation, Lou Hoover, organized a conference to address this controversy.  The outcome of the conference was the Women’s Division, which was responsible for managing growth and policy of women’s sports and  had the stated belief  that "promotion of competition that stresses enjoyment of sport and the development of good sportsmanship and character rather than those types that emphasize the making and breaking of records, and the winning of championships for the enjoyment of spectators and for the athletic reputation or commercial advantages of institutions and organizations."  This policy continued until 1940.


In this lesson students will examine history through the lens of women in sport. 

Materials Required:

Access to the Internet and/or access to a public library.


Have students examine online or hard copy timelines of athletics.
Have a brief discussion about what students like and dislike in the time tables they reviewed. 
Divide the class into four groups and assign each group one of the following topics:
Track and field
Notify each group that they are to create a two part timeline.  One part of the timeline must depict men in the sport they are assigned; the second part must depict women in the sport they are assigned.

Extending the Lesson:

To extend this lesson, divide the class in half by gender.  Assign the boys the task of putting together a timeline of women in sport and the girls the task of putting together a timeline of men in sport.  These timelines should be based on the original timelines the smaller groups created.   

Sources & Resources:

American Association of University Women: History of Women in Sport Timeline
AlternaTime: A Collection of Timelines on the Web
Wikipedia Sports Timeline
Sports – Timeline Index
First Ladies’ Educational Timeline
   Beran, J.  From Six-On-Six to Full Court Press:  A Century of Iowa Girl’s Basketball.  Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1993. 
   Berlage, G. I. Women in Baseball.  Westport: Greenwood Publishing Group, 1994. 
   Chisholm, Jane.  Timelines of World History.  Tulsa: Educational Development Corporation, 2001. 
   Grun, Bernard and Simpson, Eva. The Timetables of History: A Horizontal Linkage of People and Events. New York: Touchstone, 2005. 
   Guttman, A.  Women’s Sports.  New York: Columbia University Press, 1991. 
   Heaphy, L. A. and May, A. (ed.).   Encyclopedia of Women and Baseball.  Jefferson: McFarland & Company, 2006. 
   Johnson, S. E. When Women Played Hardball.  Seattle: Seal Press, 1994. 
   Lannin, J.  A History of Basketball for Girls and Women: From Bloomers to Big Leagues.  Minneapolis: Lerner Publishing Group, 2000. 
   Macy, S.  A Whole New Ball Game: The Story of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball.  New York: Penguin Books, 1993. 
   McElwain, M.  The Only Dance in Iowa:  A History of Six-Player Girls’ Basketball.  Lincoln: Bison Books, 2004. 
   Nelson, M. B., Danziger, L. and Smith, L.  Nike is a Goddess: the History of Women in Sports.  New York:  Atlantic Monthly Press, 1998. 
   Rappaport, D. Callan, L. and Lewis, E. B.  Dirt on Their skirts:  The Story of the Young Women who Won the World Championship.  New York: Penguin Books, 2000. 
   Simons, M. Women’s Gymnastics a History: 1966 to 1974.  Carmel: Welwyn Publishing Company, 1996. 
   Tricard, L. M. American Women’s Track and Field: A History, 1895 through 1980.  Jefferson: McFarland & Company, 1996. 
   Urdanq, Laurence (ed.) and Schlesinger, Arthur Meier, Jr. The Timetables of American History.  New York: Touchstone, 1996.

Credits: This lesson was written by Debra L. Clark, Kent State University