In Germany there is a huge discrepancy between positive attitudes toward physical activity and actual practice of sport. According to representative studies more than 80% of the population is convinced that for various reasons, especially those of health, it is very important to take up a sport (Kaschuba, 1989). However, only 21% of the male and no more than 14% of the female population (older than 14) were reported to practice a sport at least once a week (Opaschowski, 1995).
This article focuses on the question of how a relationship to sport develops in the course of the lives of girls and women. The empirical data derives from a project on “Sport in the Lives of Women” in which women active in football (soccer), gymnastics/aerobics and tennis were interviewed about their biographies and their experience with physical activities. The theoretical background is based on approaches towards life course and biography, gender and gender relations, and socialization. Typical patterns of sport involvement in the different stages of life, e.g. the important role of the parents in early childhood and the importance of peers at school were found.,.
In addition, different types of sport commitment could be identified. Certain patterns, for example, were dependent on the combination of the simultaneous practice of different types of sport and the alternation between practice and non-practice of sport. In this way it was possible to distinguish between all-round sportswomen and women who practice sport for reasons of health. In general, sport biographies develop through the close interaction of social factors and individual decisions.