Negative Societal Reactions to Women Professional Football Athletes in the United States

in Women in Sport and Physical Activity Journal

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Dana MunkGrand Valley State University

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Ramona CoxMichigan State University

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Martha E. EwingMichigan State University

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Peggy McCannSiena Heights University

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There has been quite a surge of women’s professional football teams in the United States; however, football is rarely offered for girls at the youth sport, middle school, high school, or intercollegiate levels. While this lack of participation can be easily attributed to the contact sport exemption clause in Title IX, researchers have shown that litigation has changed the course for women by legally opening doors for opportunities in tackle football. Today, it is more likely the lack of opportunities for females in traditional male sports is because of stereotypical beliefs linked to their gender. Using qualitative methodology, researchers in this study explored stereotypical, discrepant, societal messages encountered by current professional female football players. Findings suggested societal reactions were linked to stereotypical beliefs about women in sports and included a lack of social support, discriminatory messages, and skepticism over girl’s ability to play contact sports. Implications for further study also emerged.

Munk is with Department of Movement Science at Grand Valley University, Allendale, MI. Cox and Ewing are with the Kinesiology Dept., Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI. McCann is with the Sport Management Department at Siena Heights University, Adrian, MI.

Address author correspondence to Dana Munk at munkd@gvsu.edu.
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