In the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam, women officially competed in track and field for the first time. After a world-record-breaking 800-meter final, the press inaccurately reported that the runners collapsed at the finish and generally called for the race to be eliminated since it called too greatly on feminine strength. In intervening years between the 1928 and 1932 Olympics, the IOC and IAAF voted to eliminate the race from the program. A fuller understanding of 800-meter race, within a broader American cultural milieu about women’s health and sport, demonstrates how the media and sport governing bodies intersect with ideologies of femininity.
The author is with the Kinesiology Dept., Pennsylvania State University, Berks, Reading, PA.