Professional Women's Sports

Professional athletic leagues for men are heads above women's when it comes to pay, endorsements, and media coverage. The purpose of this page is to educate about the evolving world of women's professional sports, through providing information about gender inequality in the professional sports league, resources for athletes, and links to women's professional sports leagues.

Where are the Women?

Professional athletics is a field largely dominated by men. Women have many cards stacked against them in getting the TV coverage and sponsorship they need in order to be successful.

While women in the sports of golf and tennis have proven successful. Other leagues such as softball, basketball, and volleyball have not. Every professional team of this type has been unsuccessful since the mid-seventies. In many cases these teams were drawing fan support, but were unable to get the support needed from sponsors and TV. In some cases these women teams were not able to get fans, sponsors, or TV support. One common feature of all of the women's professional basketball and volleyball teams, was a man behind the scenes.

According to Linda Vivas, former Major League Volleyball executive director, dealing with women athletes and strong, aggressive females in general cause problems for the United States. Women are more readily accepted into golf and tennis because they are not contact sports, making them considered less aggressive than team sports. "Women athletes are looked at as masculine and get the stigma of being gay." Image is an important component of women's athletics, so the consideration of lesbians in female sports causes a lot of debate.

Proposals for new athletic teams have been made under the assumption that professional women's athletics would now have more opportunities to exposure, the bottom line, due to cable TV. However, there are many female athletes who are leery of these proposals due to the history of women's professional sports. Some female athletes claim that due to the shakiness of finances they were never paid in the old league. In order for new leagues to be successful there needs to be owners, arenas, TV coverage, and players.

One component of the male domination in sports is not giving females equal access to coaching and weight training. "Sports is a place where physiological advantages give men power, and they're afraid of losing it."

In order to find a women's professional sports team that was somewhat successful you would need to go back in history almost fifty years to World War II. During this time when the men were gone The All-American Girls Professional Baseball League was formed, and lasted 12 years. Looking at the success of this league and the failures of the more recent leagues you have to ask yourself if it is only possible for women to be successful in the absence of men?

Women's professional teams have been successful in Europe, Japan, South America, and Australia, which may partly be due to the lack of male competition outside the United States. Overseas women's basketball is not considered to be a weaker version of men's.

In order to get women professional sports teams to be successful in the United States we may need to change who is running them. There has been a lack of support by U.S. businesswomen for women's sports teams. While in Europe the best-run and most publicized teams are run by women who are small business owners. "Businesswomen here are too conservative and don't stick their necks out," states Joy Burns, president of Sportswomen of Colorado, Inc.

The future for women's athletics does not look all that bright. The lack of financial support goes deeper than simple economics to "the realm of deep-rooted sexual bias and homophobia."

Rounds, Kate. Jan-Feb 1991. "Why Men Fear Women's Teams". Ms.. 1:43-5.


Illustration by Beth Gavrilles

We chose this symbol to represent professional women's sports because it grasps the competitiveness and strong enthusiasm of the players in professional women's sports. It represents professional women athletes because of the diversity of sports portrayed and the diversity of ethnicity in the people represented. This painting tells us that women are active in professional sports. A diversity of women are choosing to participate in a wide variety of professional sports and are take an active role in its evolution. Women are strongly committed to women's sports and are working to ensure the success of women's professional athletics. This artistic symbol takes the topic of women in sports in a different direction than our government source discussing Title IX, in the article Promoting Gender Equity in Middle and Secondary School Sports Programs. Title IX was passed to create gender equity in sports and it is assumed that through this law gender equity will be established. This painting does not portrays creating equal opportunities for women in sporting as the creation of a passive law, but as women taking an active roll to ensure that they are included in the world of sports, that they are given equal opportunities, and that they are taken seriously.



Advances in Women's Sports - Summary of four articles about the advances being made by women in one of the greatest male dominated fields, professional team sports.

The South African Experience - Summary of an article about the struggles of South African women in sports.



Women's National Basketball League - Australia - This web page, designed and maintained by and for the Women's National Basketball League of Australia, provides a view of professional women's sports in a non-U.S. context. The purpose of this web page is to both promote the Women's National Basketball League and to inform the public of who the organization is and the current events of the organization. This site both promotes and informs through the use of new updates, team schedules, and stats; maintained on the page and connecting links.

Government Site - Promoting Gender Equity in Middle and Secondary School Sports Programs
This article was created by ERIC, The Educational Resources Information Center and prepared with funding from the Office of Educational Research and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education. The purpose of the article on this web page is to inform the public about gender equity and the legal basis for gender equity in sports, through Title IX. This site accomplishes its objective by providing the definition of sports gender equity, current girls high school athletic enrollment, and the areas of athletics in which Title IX requires gender equity in sports programs. Gender equity in sports "describes an environment in which fair and equitable distribution of overall athletic opportunities, benefits, and resources is available to women and men and in which student-athletes, coaches, and athletics administrators are not subject to gender-based discrimination." When Title IX was passed in 1972 there was an immediate increase in the number of female sports participants. Today 35% of high school athletes are female, with the number of participants being at the highest ever. Great strides have been made for girls and women in sports, but equality has not yet been reached. This article is not linked to other pages pertaining to gender equality in professional sports. Title IX has provided many girls and women with the opportunity to play sports, which has enabled them to refine their skills and move on to a higher level - professional women athletics.

Women's Sports Foundation - The Women's Sports Foundation provides girls and women with information on sports and fitness. It is a charitable educational organization that is dedicated to increase sports and fitness participation of girls and women and educated the public to support gender equity in sports. The Women's Sports Foundation has an educated staff to provide information and support in the area of women's sports and fitness. The Women's Sports Foundation accomplishes it's goal through many resources as links from their homepage, such as an equity hotline where one can seek help from the Foundation's Advocacy Coordinator, an expert in the field, attorney referral service, or another organization providing assistance. Along with the hotline this web page provides many resources for helping athletes, coaches, parents, and other to ensure that girls and women receive equal opportunities. The Women's Sports Foundation also provides the latest news in the sports field, training tips from top women athletes, and information about careers in the sports field. For young women working their way up to the professional level the Women's Sports Foundation offers financial support through grants and scholarships.

Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) - This is the Women's National Basketball Association official web site maintained by and for the WNBA. The purpose of the web page is to promote the WNBA and educate the public about what the WNBA is. This web site accomplishes it's objective by providing the latest information of what is happening in the world of the WNBA. This web page also provides links to stats and schedules for all 16 WNBA teams, ticket information, information about WNBA teams, information about players and coaches, WNBA store, WNBA history, WNBA official rulebook, references and books for new WNBA fans, an opportunity to chat and post questions for WNBA players and coaches - including a special page where girls can submit questions about the everyday issues they face, and contact information for the WNBA teams and league.

Women's Pro Indoor Volleyball - The National Volleyball Association is a league for professional women's indoor volleyball. The NVA is an expert on pro volleyball since it is one of the few survivors of pro volleyball leagues left today. This site accomplishes is objective of informing and promoting the sport of pro indoor women's volleyball. This site has no other links to other pro women's sports pages.

Women's Professional Football League - The Women's Professional Football League web page is an informational and promotional page for women's professional football, which was started one year ago. This page is an expert on the issue of pro women's football since it is the only pro league that's been around for twenty years. This site does a very good job of informing and promoting pro women's football, although there are no other links to other women's professional sports programs.

Ladies Professional Golf Association - The Ladies Professional Golf Association web page is a promotional and informational page for professional women's golf. The LPGA is an expert on the issue of professional women's sports due to the fact that they are the governing body of professional women's golf. Although there are no links to other professional women's sports pages or organizations, they accomplish their goal of informing people of professional women's golf.

The Fighter Within by Mia Rosales - We chose this personal narrative of professional women's boxer, Mia Rosales - St. John because she discusses issues involved in growing up as a racial minority woman. Included in her narrative is her personal struggle with drugs and alcohol and the affects they had on her life. This personal narrative gives an understanding of what it is like to grow-up as a female minority and become a sports star. The other sources evaluated on our professional women's sports web page discuss the issue of women in professional sports as a whole, but Mia Rosales - St. John's narrative discuss this topic through the eyes of one person; giving you a deeper understanding of what it takes to become a professional female athlete.

Women's Studies Home Page - The author of the Women's Studies 201 web page is JoAnn Rogers. She is a TA for the Summer 2000 Women's Studies 201 class and works closely with the professor of the class, Dr. Jacquelyn Litt. The purpose of this web page is to provide the women's studies 201 students with information about the class requirements and feminist issues. This site accomplishes its objective through providing a detailed schedule for the class and also provides many links to various feminist issues. On this site is a link called Sports which goes to a page devoted to women's sports. On this Sports page are many links to various sport's issues.