Girls and Sports

Girls and Sports

An annotated literature review of resources about girls and sports…

Girls and Sports: Annotated Literature Review
Provided by JoAnn Deak, Ph.D.

1] Blalock, Jane. THE GUTS TO WIN.Connecticut: Golf Digest, 1977.

Although somewhat dated, this book is an important one to include. Jane Blalock was the only girl to play on a boys’ baseball team as a girl. She became on of the youngest girls to win a golf championship. In this book, she shares her story and words of wisdom for females about how to cope with the stress of being an athlete and how to become a tough competitor.

2] Blais Madeleine. IN THESE GIRLS, HOPE IS A MUSCLE. New York, The Atlantic Monthly Press, 1995.

Someday this will be made into a movie. This is the passionate and moving true story of a female high school basketball team and how participation changed them and their lives.

3] Burnett, Darrell J. Ph.D. YOUTH SPORTS AND SELF-ESTEEM: A GUIDE FOR PARENTS. Indianapolis, IN.: Masters Press 1993

Practical, practical, practical! Burnett even includes checklist of what to do for everything from what to do to “86 ways to say very good”. Although not specific to girls, much of what is said is relevant for females [but not all of it…].

4] Devine, John and Gillies, Cliff. VICTORY BEYOND THE SCOREBOARD: BUILDING WINNERS IN LIFE THROUGH YOUR SPORTS. Willsonville, OR.: Book Partners, Inc., 1997.

The authors include some very interesting statistics showing a high correlation with sports’ participation and various measures of success and happiness. Relevant to girls and boys: a good general overview of the connection between sports and child characteristics.

5] Hall, M. Ann. FEMINISM AND SPORTING BODIES. Illinois: Human Kinetics, 1996.

As the author states it: “My purpose in FEMINISM AND SPORTING BODIES is to ‘speak feminism’ to physical educators, sport studies students and scholars and sports women.” This book, then, focuses on theory and cultural norms in relation to females and sports rather than the effect of sports on the female participants.

6] Henkel, Steven A. GAMES FOR SUCCESS: DEVELOPING CHILDREN’S CHARACTER THROUGH RECREATIONAL PLAY. Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America, Inc. 1995.

A great resource for schools, and not just physical education programs. The author does something rather unique: He tells you how to play games and also points out what they do for children in terms of character development. Again, not specific to girls, but it is a real treasure.


Although this book is over 10 years old, it offers a perspective that doesn’t lose it relevance with time: a father trying to understand a daughter that is passionate about sports.

8] Markel, Robert, and Brooks, Nancy. FOR THE RECORD: WOMEN IN SPORTS. New York: World Almanac Publications, 1985.

A bit dated, but the next version hasn’t been written yet. Advertised as the first complete book of women’s achievements in sports, this book contains 189 pages of lists, names, biographies, etc. It is very complete up through 1985.

9] McMane, Fred, and Wolf, Cathrine. WINNING WOMEN. New York: Bantam Books, 1995.

The authors tell the life stories of eight famous female athletes from their childhoods to the present time [e.g. Steffi Graf, Oksana Baiul, Shannon Miller]. The book is a compilation of these eight narratives.

10] PARENT’S GUIDE TO GIRLS’ SPORTS. New York: Women’s Sports Foundation.

This very informative booklet for parents includes such topics as: The value of sport, girls needs at different levels, special needs of the female athlete, etc. It has been reprinted several times and was first available in the late 1980’s.

11] Powe-Allrod, Alexandra, and Powe, Michelle. THE QUIET STORM: A CELEBRATION OF WOMEN IN SPORT. Indianapolis, Indiana: Masters Press, 1997.

Although many female athletes are interviewed and quoted in this book, the core thesis can best be summarized by a paragraph in the first chapter: “Why are you doing this?… The same cannot be said of boys for whom participation and success in sports is not questioned. For females, however, resistance and self-doubt are normal. So why do some girls and women ride out the resistance and stick with their sports and convictions? There are as many reasons as there are female athletes.” And the book goes on to respond to those questions…

12] Sandoz, Joli, and Winans, Joby eds. WHATEVER IT TAKES: WOMEN ON WOMEN’S SPORT. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1999.

This book tries to answer such questions as what is it like for a woman to wrestle? What do today’s girls think when they lace up their Sheryl Swoopes sneakers on their way to shoot hoops with the guys? What strengths have they drawn, during their nearly one hundred and fifty years in competitive sport, from themselves and each other? The editors go on to say that ” It struck us as odd- and finally, insupportable- that after a combined total of more than fifty years as athletes and coaches, we simply didn’t know.


When I read the part about “the missing element in most games”, I knew this book would make the list. Not just another book about sports and coaching, it makes you think about how you are shaping the children on your team.

14] Zimmerman, Jean, and Greavill, Gil. RAISING OUR ATHLETIC DAUGHTERS. New York: Doubleday, 1998.

The authors begin by reviewing the need of girls to be strong and capable and end their preface by talking about some of the obstacles girls face in becoming part of the athletic world. Chapter titles include: Girls Are Ready for Sports- Are Sports Ready for Girls? Grade School and Team Sports. Saving the Lives of Girls Through Sports.

Four other books contain information or stories about female athletes that help to round out the literature search in this area:

15] Chipman, Dawn et. al. COOL WOMEN: THE THINKING GIRL’S GUIDE TO THE HIPPEST WOMEN IN HISTORY. California: Girls Press, 1998.

The visual design and format is stunning and captivating. The portrayal of “flying aces” and “women vikings” is etraordinary and unique and adds to the resources available about role models in female history. One of the areas of risk taking that is discussed is joining and being a sports team member.

16] Erlback, Arlene. WORTH THE RISK: TRUE STORIES ABOUT RISK TAKERS PLUS HOW YOU CAN BE ONE, TOO. Minneapolis, Free Spirit Publishing, 1999.

A rare book! One of the few books that jumps right in and begins by giving ways of becoming a risk taker. In fact, the entire book is a proactive approach of what to do. The three sections include: Part one- what is a risk? part two: real risk takers; part three- ready, set, risk!

17] Haven, Kendall. AMAZING AMERICAN WOMEN. Englewood, Colorado: Libraries Unlimited, Inc. 1995.

Forty fascinating five-minute reads are the sub-title of this book. Women not usually written about or known well are portrayed including the first woman to swim the English Channel and the first female Little League player.

18] Welden, Amelie. GIRLS WHO ROCKED THE WORLD: HEROINES FROM SACAGAWEA TO SHERYL SWOOPES. Oregon: Beyond Words Publishing, 1998.

The author tries to provide as many female role models throughout history as possible. Included are such sports figures as Babe Didrikson, Wilma Rudolph, Nadia Comaneci Sheryl Swoopes, Cristen Powell and Martina Hingis. Great stories, great pictures of the women, nice clean layout.