Women Basketball in the United States

   

written by Bernt Pölling-Vocke, Oldenburg, Germany

September 2003

E-Mail: Bernty@gmx.com  
(design is sometimes not perfect (for example the use of pages for reference within the article) as I copied the text (Word-file) and did not retype for the webpage)

 

Contents

 

1. Introduction                                                                                                     3

2.  The history of basketball                                                                              4

3.  Senda Berenson: the women who brought the females on the court         7

4. The original game as being played by males and females                          9

5. The differences of the female game

5.1 The physical restrictions of female players                                  10

5.2 Protecting the game                                                                       14

5.3 Teaching values by playing ball                                                    15

6. The history of female basketball in the US until today                              18

7. The history and outlook of professional female basketball in the
    United States                                                                                                21

8. Sources                                                                                                         27

9. Appendix                                                                                                      30

 

 

1. Introduction

 

In this paper, I want to analyse women basketball, its development, its role in today’s American society and its significance in the world of professional sports.

At first, I will begin with a short summary of the history of basketball in general, from its original rules to its importance today, both on a recreational and a professional level, where basketball, especially the men’s National Basketball Association (NBA), has become a global sport. 

In the following chapter, I will show how women basketball came along and developed over the course of time. In the chapter concerning the women’s game it will be possible to show that the way women approached the game in its early days mirrored the way women were seen as a part of society in general, thus requiring a different game than the game played by their male counterparts. I will show in detail why the game played by women had to differ in its early days and what the educational importance of a team game such as basketball was in “correcting the female character”. 

The last chapter of this homework will deal with professional female basketball. No other female professional sport has ever been a bigger success than today’s Women National Basketball Association (WNBA). I want to show that not only did women’s basketball struggle for a long time to finally come up with a competitive league, but that this league is still struggling hard for its survival in a male-sports dominated American society.

 

2. The history of basketball

The game of basketball as it is known and played around the world today has little in common with the game Dr. James Naismith developed when basketball was first created by him in 1891. Naismith, born in 1861 in Ramsay township, near Almonte, Ontario, Canada, went to attend McGill University in Montreal, Quebec and served as McGill´s Athletic Director before moving on to the YMCA Training School in Springfield, Massachusetts, USA, in 1891[1]. There he served as the Athletic Director once again. Under orders from Dr. Luther Gulick, the head of Physical Education at his school, Naismith was given 14 days to create an indoor game that would provide an athletic distraction for a rowdy class during the wintertime[2], as no sport was able to fill the gap between football in the fall and soccer and track in the spring[3]. His first intentions were to bring outdoor games, such as soccer and lacrosse, indoors, but then remembered a simple child’s game he had played as a child, and which was known as duck-on-a-rock. The game involved attempting to knock a "duck" off the top of a large rock by tossing another rock at it. As he wanted to create a game basked on skill instead of pure strength, he developed thirteen rules around the game he remembered from his childhood, as he was a strong believer in recreational sport, but shied away from the glory of competitive athletics.  When the first basketball game was played, a soccer ball and two peach baskets were used as equipment. In 1892, he published the first formal rules of the new game[4]. At that time a variable number of players dribbled a soccer ball up and down a court of unspecified dimensions. Whenever the ball landed in the peach baskets, points were awarded. Iron hoops were used a year later, but it took a full decade until open-ended nets put an end to the practice of manually retrieving the ball from the basket each time a team scored[5]. Even though basketball became more and more popular, Naismith never became famous or rich through his invention. The only real recognition he received during his lifetime occurred in 1936, when the National Association of Basketball Coaches invited him to witness basketball become an Olympic sport at the 1936 Games held in Berlin. Today, the only basketball Hall of Fame, located in Springfield, Massachusetts, bears his name and is called the “Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame”[6]

Over the course of time, the rules of basketball developed into those we know as basketball today. Few of the changes to the game have come without protests from those who believed the game to be just good as it is. An example of this is the history of the three pointer, which was only introduced into college basketball in 1980. It was used in the National Basketball Association’s professional league on a trial basis a year earlier and had been part of the American Basketball Association’s professional league before, which also shows that the way basketball was played historically differed by the institutions under whose control it was being played. Back then some of the college coaches were reluctant to add the three pointer into their game, a mindset that can be shown by a quote from Bob Zuffelato, coach of the “Marhsall´s” in 1981:

“I'm basically a conservative. I think college basketball is unique, the most exciting brand of basketball there is. And I don't think it needs gimmicks like the three-point goal, the 30-second clock or the 11-foot basket. The shot is a low percentage one, which is just the opposite of what we teach and preach.”[7]

All in all, it is safe to say that since its first appearance as a winter-sport under the control of James Naismith, basketball has become one of the world’s most played sports. A study by the SGMA, the sport product industry’s association, shows that more than 45 million Americans played basketball in 1997, up from 35.7 million in 1987. This makes basketball the most played team sport in the United States, ahead of volleyball which is ranked 2nd with 29.1 million players. Only non-team sports, such as bowling (53.3 million) and fishing (50.2 million), rank ahead of basketball. Basketball is also a sport enjoyed by both sexes at an equal growth rate with an 25% increase in female participation from 1987 to 1997 (11 to 13 million) and an 27% increase in male players (24.7 to 31.4 million), with 7.9 million men and 2.6 million women playing 52 times or more per year. It is also very likely that female basketball, the main topic of this homework, will be able to close the gap to male basketball even more in the near future, as 4 million girls between the age of 6 and 11 play basketball, compared to 7 million boys, indicating that the ratio between male and female players will decrease in the long term[8]. 

Professional basketball has also developed quiet impressive and professional leagues can be found all over the globe. The first sign of basketball turning into a sport with paid players was during the 1896-1897 season, when players of the Trenton Basketball Team received money to play even though the amount of money involved was rather low. The correct amount each player received after the completition of each game is unknown but it is known that Fred Cooper, Trenton’s premier player and team captain, received an extra dollar and was the game’s highest paid player. It is also quiet noteworthy that it took basketball only five years from its early beginnings to turn into a sport with paying audiences and paid players.[9]

Today basketball is, as mentioned above, a game being enjoyed actively by hundreds of millions of players around the world. Basketball has also become one of the most successful professional sports on earth, and basketball’s flagship, the north American National Basketball Association, features 29 male teams and generates an annual turnover that allows these teams to spend between 26 and 85 million dollar (with the 15th ranked team spending 52 million dollar) per year on player salaries alone. Games of the league were broadcasted in 175 countries by 1996[10]. The television rights of the NBA net 785 million dollar per year in the United States alone[11], an amount that rivals the television contracts of other main sport rights in their countries, as, for example,  the Premier League (football) in Great Britain nets a total of 483 million euro per year for its TV-rights[12]. By comparison, the US-based WNBA (Women National Basketball Association), which will be portrayed in detail in the chapter dealing with professional women basketball in the United States, hands out its TV contracts for free to ESPN, an American cable sports-only channel. The WNBA takes place in the NBA-off season (where other main sports, as the National Football League or the National Hockey Association, are off as well, thus allowing enough free airtime on the nations sports channels), then sells the commercials for its televised games, shares those revenues with the TV stations, who get the programming for free in the first place, and survives merely due to its close ties to the men’s NBA[13]. But, as I will point out later, the WNBA clearly is the first major professional women league of any kind that can be considered a success in the United States.

Another really good example, especially for German readers of this paper, of the financial power of the NBA is that the German first division soccer club Hamburger SV operates on a budget of approximately 25 million euro per season, an amount that would be just enough to pay Shaquille O’Neal’s salary with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2003/2004, which stands at 25.517.858 dollar. Even though Mr. O’Neal gets paid more than the average NBA player, the average salary still stands at 4.9 million dollar and is higher than that of top earners in the German Bundesliga such as Oliver Kahn (4 million per season, Bayern München, goalkeeper and honoured as “best in the world” in 2002) or Amoroso (4.5 million, Borussia Dortmund, forward).[14]  The global appeal of the trademark “NBA” also becomes obvious by recent plans to host a couple of regular-season games per year in China, where the NBA has made great strides in popularity after former stars of Chinese basketball were allowed to cross the Pacific Ocean in order to play in the NBA[15]. The most famous Chinese player, Yao Ming of the Houston Rockets, has also recently signed an endorsement deal with Reebok that is reported to be worth at least as much as a 7-year, 90 million dollar contract Nike signed with LeBron James, the first overall draft pick in this years draft (where teams, basically in reserve order of last years standings, can pick young players who declared themselves available for the draft).[16]

 

 

3. Senda Berenson: the women who brought the females on the court

The history of women basketball began only a short while after Dr. James Naismith created the original game and his original rules in 1891. The roots of women basketball lead us back to Senda Berenson, born on March 19th in Vilna, Lithuania. In 1892, she worked as Director of the Gymnasium and Instructor of Physical Culture at Smith College. Trained at the Boston Normal School of Gymnastics, Berenson was hired at Smith in January 1892, one month after the game of basketball had been invented by James Naismith at the International YMCA Training School in nearby Springfield, Mass. At Smith, Berenson instituted an effective program of Swedish gymnastics for her female students. In addition, she organized athletic contests in sports, such as volleyball, fencing, field hockey and basketball, all intended to build character in her female students.  Her philosophy was to offer “the most for the most”, which meant that she wanted to include women of all skill levels in her program and did not believe in devoting an extraordinary amount of time to a smaller group of higher skilled students. It is easy to understand this belief by reading the following quote “If the average college student needs it – how much more do the students below average strength and health need it. If my interest has been keen for every individual. Heart was with the weaker girls – perhaps because I had been one myself. As soon as I had achieved a few assistants, we had special classes for subnormal girls…”[17] This philosophy resulted in a policy at Smith College to favour a strong intracollege sports program over the rather normal interscholastic athletic competition.  Berenson extended her missionary-like work in popularising Swedish gymnastics beyond Smith: first with students and faculty at Northampton High School, and later with female patients at the Northampton Lunatic Hospital. 

Shortly after she was hired at Smith, Berenson read about the still new sport of basketball and went to visit Naismith to learn more about it. Fascinated by the new sport and the values it could teach, she organized the first women’s collegiate basketball game on March 21, 1893, when her Smith freshmen and sophomores played against one another. She was heavily influenced by the thinking of her time about women’s natural physical limitations and soon adapted the rules Naismith had created to avoid the unwanted roughness of the men’s game. Her rules were first published in 1899 and two years later Berenson became the editor of A.G. Spalding’s first Women's Basketball Guide, which further spread her version of basketball for women.

Spalding, the company still producing the official basketballs used in the NBA, as well as official sporting goods for many other US professional sports, was approached by Dr. Naismith after he had invented basketball. Dr. Naismith wanted a better suited ball for his game, where a soccerball had been used before. Spalding and basketball became closely associated and even the official rules of basketball at that time read “The ball made by A.G. Spalding & Bros. shall be the official ball”[18]. As a result of this close tie, it was also A.G. Spalding who published Senda Berenson’s rules and helped to establish women basketball as she had thought of it. As an honour to her achievements, she was elected as one of the first two women to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1985, long after her own death.[19]

 

 

 

4. The original game as being played by males and females

As I mentioned at the beginning of my paper, the original versions of basketball have little in common with basketball today. Dr. James Naismith created 13 original rules[20] as a guide to how his new game ought to be played. Without going too deep into each individual rule, I will point out the main differences compared to the game we know today and then highlight the changes Senda Berenson made to the game in order to suit it for her female students.

Just as today, the aim of the game was for each team to score as many goals (or “baskets” today) as possible by delivering a ball into the opposing team’s basket. A huge difference was that the player controlling the ball was not allowed to run with it. He had to throw it from the spot where he caught the ball (but was allowed to throw the ball to other running players, who were required to make a visible effort to stay on the spot when they received the pass). The defending players were allowed to snatch or bat the ball from the ball-carrier’s hands, as long as they didn’t make a fist to do so. Physical play, as it is known today, was prohibited and anything but the ball was not to be touched or pushed in an aggressive manner. Errant passes or balls going out of bounds in general were not handed over to the opposing team as today. Instead, the first player to retrieve the ball was allowed to put it back in play, a rather chaotic rule that consequently lead to wild races whenever the ball went out of bounds.

Senda Berenson studied these rules and made some major changes that changed the whole character of the game[21]. She saw the chaotic running after loose balls and the unnecessary roughness when players tried to bat the ball away from other players (as it is a noble idea to only hit or snatch the ball in a heated match all the time, but also only an illusion). First Senda Berenson did away with the unnecessary and theoretically harmful running by dividing the playing field into three divisions. Each player was tied to his own division and consequently moving on much less space than in the men’s game. The reason for the reduction of the physical stress was a belief that women were not suited for a physically demanding game, an argument I will portray in the following topic “the physical restrictions of female players”. Snatching or batting the ball as a defending player was also disallowed, which reduced the defensive options in the game. Instead ball-controlling players were not allowed to hold on to the ball for more than three seconds and were allowed to dribble the ball three times while moving at the same time (the stationary element of the ball-carrier was thus thrown out of the game). The ball had to be dribbled in a way that made it bounce up at least to the knee, allowing defending players to steal it in mid-air. Senda Berenson wanted to avoid personal contact and thought of it as insulting. By eliminating physical contact as much as possible, she wanted to make the game more acceptable in a society where female sports were still something new and many people had females doing gymnastics on their mind when they thought about them exercising. I will go in detail on this in the chapter “Protecting the game”. The main rule changes thought of by Senda Berenson were also thought of as a way to teach important values to the females participating in the sport. The emphasis on combination play and team work by making it impossible for a single player to move all over the court in a “star”-fashion was aimed at typical female weaknesses Senda Berenson thought to exist. This will be portrayed in detail in the chapter “Teaching values by playing ball”.  

 

5. The differences of the female game

5.1 The physical restrictions of female players

Basketball and sports in general were seen as increasingly important educational measures to turn students into healthy and socially functionable citizens. Leaders in the field of physical education for women, such as Senda Berenson, wanted to increase the popularity of female sports and were pleased to see that female sports were meeting less and less opposition as time went on. In her article “Senda Berenson Asserts the Value of Adapted Women's Basketball, 1901, she comes to the conclusion that the younger generation of women is already showing the good results that can be obtained from better physiques, greater strength and more endurance. These results are also required in a world were previously male-dominated fields of labour were opening their doors to women, creating a more equal society.

But when Senda Berenson talks about men and women becoming more and more equal, she still believes that the games being played by men ought not to be taken over by the women as they are. Due to this, she changed the rules of female basketball as mentioned before and one of the reasons for those changes was the belief that sports, as being done by men, were harmful to women, who, as believed in those times, were physically weaker and not capable of playing games as men did without risking their health.

An effect of the division of the playing field into three divisions was that the tax on each individual player was reduced by comparison to a game where all players could move to all spots on the field (as in the men’s game). Senda Berenson describes this in her article “Senda Berenson Asserts the Value of Adapted Women's Basketball” as “the lines prevent the players from running all over the gymnasium, thus doing away with unnecessary running, and also giving the heart moments of rest[22]. This quote shows that one of her motives for taking a big part of the running out of the game was a concern about the heart of the players. Early in the article she can also be quoted with the statement that it has been found that a number of girls who play without division lines have developed hypertrophy of the heart.

The article “The Physiological Effects of Basket Ball” by Theodore Hough, a doctor, published by Senda Berenson in her work “Basket Ball for Women as adopted by the Conference of Physical Training, held in June 1899 in Springfield, Mass”[23], informs its readers about the risks associated with sports. Theodore Hough bases his article on a (at that time) recent study which showed that sports such as cycling are more asking to the body than activities as walking, even though both activities might seem to result in an comparable amount of fatigue. He states that “the amount of carbon-dioxide given off and of oxygen consumed by the body is vastly greater during bicycle riding that it is during walking, and that is its also much greater than we should suspect from our feelings of fatigue”. The reason for this is that cycling involves a larger number of muscles and creates less wear on the joints. As fatigue cannot be seen as a reliable source of the amount of muscular work being done, it is thus possible for an individual to overwork its heart and blood vessels, which have to work harder in an exercise as cycling than one would suspect. Based on this observation from cycling and walking, he concludes that basketball involves the use of a large number of muscles again, and, as more work is done than the player is conscious of, that there is a point where it becomes physiologically unsafe to play basketball. As female sports were something new and some observations led to the belief that women are weaker and less capable of strenuous work than men, it is quiet logical that Theodore Hough has to advise that “playing under proper restrictions is a good thing”. At this point, he proposes changes to decrease the demand on the heart of a player, such as a shorter duration of play and increased times of rest. He also points out that the rule changes already implemented by Senda Berenson seem to lead in the right direction and proves this by writing that he knows of two colleges where basketball has been played by females for a number of years. One of the colleges played by the Y.M.C.A. rules (based on the thirteen original rules of Dr. James Naismith), another used the modified rules as created by Senda Berenson. Consequent to his former statements, he shows that a suspicious number of girls have developed heart problems at the school using the Y.M.C.A. rules and, due to this “it seems to me that the division of the field into three parts with the consequent limitation of the possible amount of exertion gives an amply sufficient explanation of these results”.

Even though it might sound as if he is mounting a lot of arguments against basketball, he writes that a sport as basketball is also an important element of a well-balanced physical education as previously dominant activities such as gymnastics can not provide “a certain amount of what is called endurance”. Basketball, restricted by the rules for the female game, is instead considered “vigorous work” by him and a good mean to train the heart and the respiratory apparatus to a degree of strength and endurance required by the demands of the changing lifestyle of women at the turn of the century.

Additionally, he points out that the increased breathing, which occurs when one plays basketball (one has to keep in mind that he advises the rather stationary female basketball once a week in a game based on two 10-minutes-halves), is beneficial to the whole body, for example by aiding the flow of the nutrient fluids (lymph) around the cells, which betters the nutrition of the whole body. He states that “the man or woman who does nothing to indace vigorous breathing is running a far greater hygienic risk when one drinks a glass of water from the notoriously bad water supply of some of our American cities”.

All in all, one can conclude that his article has to be considered forward-thinking for his time. Even though the amount of physical work he advises for female basketball players might seem almost non-existent from our point of view today, one has to remember that females in the U.S. just started sports at all at this time. Accidental observations might have led doctors and physical trainers to a “better safe than sorry” approach when it came to female sports. The right for equally hard exercise, as it exists today, did not come along easily though.

Even in 1976 the book “Sports in America” by James. A. Michener[24], the author deals with this issue in the chapter “Women in Sports”[25], where he opens up a chapter with the question “Are sports especially dangerous to girls?”. Here he refers to a recent book titled “The Female Athlete”[26] and points out that young boys and girls mature about evenly to the age of nine, when girls make a quantum jump, “becoming taller, heavier, better coordinated and generally more competent”. But then the girl’s growth terminates at the age of fifteen or sixteen, while the boy continues to develop until the age of twenty to twenty-one. He quotes a summary from the work of Drs. Carl Klafs and M. Joan Lyon which might tell about the general attitude towards women or girls and the risks associated to sports.

“The anatomical differences between the sexes favour the male. Although maturation of the female is accelerated, the longer, slower growing period experienced by the male results in a heavier, larger and more rugged structure that possesses mechanical and structural advantages, particularly where the upper body is concerned. The longer and heavier bones add to body weight and the longer levers provide a much greater excursion of the moving ends (e.g., hands and feet), resulting in a greater speed and force, a decided advantage in throwing, striking and explosive types of events.”

Further on, Drs. Carl Klafs and M. Joan Lyon turn towards the question whether physiological differences between girls and boys bar the girls from athletic competition.

“Contrary to common opinion, the female is not as handicapped in physiological respects as most people assume. Social and subcultural mores have a great deal more to do with the regulation of the female to certain prescribed roles than any particular physiological limitations; this has been particularly true in Western societies.”

Without moving further along with quotes, James A. Michener concludes that “the women’s cardiovascular system does not limit her, nor her respiratory capacity, nor her metabolism, nor childbirth”. These beliefs vary greatly to those published more than 70 years earlier, but still reflect a common belief that women have to be more protected. A typical proof for this can be seen when one considers that women did not move to full court basketball and away from the game with set divisions until 1971[27].

The subject of women and heart trouble is still a topic today, but while women were advised to “take it easy” (exercise-wise) at the turn of the century, today’s approach is the same as to men and similar troubles. “Moderately active women, who set aside at least 30 minutes three days a week for exercise, could reduce the risk of heart disease by up to 40%” is just a typical recommendation, as published in the Time Magazines cover story of August 11th, 2003[28], a recommendation as they can equally be found for men and women today.

 

5.2 Protecting the game

Senda Berenson was well aware that team sports, such as basketball, were something new for females to enjoy and, as a new element in a previously male-dominated sports-world, easy to falter under criticism. She states that unless we guard our athletics carefully in the beginning, many objectionable elements will quickly come in and by this refers to the gravest objection to the game of basketball, which is the roughness it contains. She sees this roughness as a strong influence for evil and, being well aware of many males questioning women doing sports in the first place, wants to eliminate the roughness in order to save the game. Senda Berenson believes that otherwise the great desire to win and the excitement of the game will make our women do sadly unwomanly things.

By its less rougher character in general and Senda Berensons softening influence in addition, basketball might have saved itself from troubles other sports faced over the course of their evolution. A good example for this is the sport of hockey, which is much rougher by nature. In its early days hockey also did not have its Senda Berenson and was consequently played rather equal by men and women. The book Too many men on the ice[29] deals with the history of female hockey and describes how hockey faced the problems basketball avoided from its early beginnings. In the 1920s, women hockey featured brave and manlike elements (at least from a male point of view) as body checking, hooking, slashing, scrapes and lots of cuts and stitches. At that time, many male spectators even encouraged this for the joy of watching it. An increasingly large number of men disapproved of the roughness and forbade their wives and girlfriends to play at all, and the rise of hockey was put to a halt before the sport resurfaced about 30 years later. Another problem hockey opened itself to, was the combination of male referees and them not taking the game serious at all, thus leaving their whistles in their pocket no matter whether a game turned into more of a brawl than a hockey game. Alexander Gibb, a reporter of the Toronto Star, noted that the way women hockey was being played would kill the game quicker than anything else. History turned out that he was right and, by taking the growth of a better governed sport such as basketball into account, basketball went right were hockey went wrong. Even though one might disagree with the idea of a softer women game from todays point of view the experience of hockey shows that one can not value Senda Berensons influence highly enough as she adapted basketball to the male-dominated mindset of her time and saved it from the heavy criticism it would have faced otherwise.

 

5.3 Teaching values by playing ball

In addition to the positive physical effects a “demanding” game such as basketball had on the female players, sports were also being done for educational and corrective purposes. While “gymnastic work excels all other work in corrective value, and is needed in the conditions of our modern school”[30], “Basket ball is the game above all others that has proved of the greatest value to them (women)”[31]. Other important team sports such as football and baseball were less likely to succeed as Senda Berenson thought basketball would, plain simply because football “will never be played by women” and “baseball is seldom entered into with spirit” (which, at least as I think, is a sign for superior intelligence of females in at least some aspects of life).

Senda Berenson believes that two strong forces can control the make-up of a competitive game. The first force lets the individual abandon itself to instinct and impulse in the heat of a looser regulated game and with the intense desire for victory on its mind. The result is rough and vicious play. The second strong force could be the development of expert playing, quickness of judgement and action, as well as physical and moral self-control, when the elimination of brute and unfair play is insisted on.

She states that much of the rough play, as it existed in men sports, stems from the excitement and the desire to win at any cost. Brutal players are not inborn vicious characters, but are ashamed of their conduct on the field in their calmer moments. There is a danger that the rough and unfair play on the field becomes a strong force in changing the better character of the athlete though. As a result, the sport would have its own set of morals quiet contrary to the standard of morals for normal conduct in life. She quotes that “All is fair in love and war” and writes, probably with typical men sports such as football on her mind, that “certain games mimic war; hence every action is justifiable in games”. As a result of this, the greatest element of evil in the spirit of athletics in her country is the idea “that one must win at any cost – that defeat is an unspeakable disgrace”.

Senda Berensen wants to base her athletic program for her female athletes on other motives than the “win at any cost” mentality she heavily criticises and which is dominant in male sports. She states that she is in no way against hard and earnest playing, but believes that those elements which “encourage the taking advantage of laws, cruelty, brutality and unfairness” have to be left out of a game by strict regulation. Instead, she wants to see the love of honor, courage and fair play on the field or in the gym. Failure, a result not widely accepted in male sports, is “as necessary in life as success, if those who fail profit by the experience”. For her, winning is something one can congratulate oneself to if one wins “because of expert and clean work”. Failure instead is something one can comfort oneself with, if one tried its best and was beaten fairly. A good example to show the difference between her approach to victory and defeat and the approach many men are taught, can be seen when she writes about a good old minister she listened to while he was preaching to a community of college men: “When we play a game of football, what is our object? It is to win; nothing else counts; we go in to win!”

As I pointed out earlier in the chapter “protecting the game”, she also strongly believes that the new female sports had to save themselves from objectionable features that exist in men sports and which men are trying to eliminate from theirs in a society that, by now, thinks that “a certain amount of roughness is deemed necessary to bring out manliness in our young men”.

Senda Berenson claims that basketball for women can be better than basketball for men if it is governed in a controlled way, regarding any element of roughness from its beginning. She also recognizes that women are becoming more and more equal in society and “now that she is proving that her work in certain fields of labor is equal to man’s work….she not only needs a strong physique, but physical and moral courage as well”.

Teaching moral courage and a character capable of its new role in society is what she had on her mind when she brought basketball over to her educational program (in addition to the physical benefits which I dealt with earlier in this paper).

She also wants to correct the female character, as “certain elements of false education for centuries have made woman self-conscious”. Even though Senda Berenson writes that this is becoming “less so”, she still sees women posing in individual sports such as tennis or golf. The advantage of a quick and vigorous game like basketball is that it is impossible to pose with the too continuous action.

If one broadens her statement away from the education only to the fact that women and men have had historically different roles with quiet different physical requirements, (which might have been educated to them by society again) I think one could even state that evolution has partly turned women into worse athletes. I also don’t think that women have actively tried to catch up until recently (lets say the last 100 years) and I found it quiet interesting to read that while women’s best marathon times are for example 10 minutes behind men’s, the gap seems to be closing. I read that records for women have only been kept since 1964, but that the best times for men have only improved by a yearly increment of 66 seconds, whereas the best times of women have improved by a yearly amount of 2 minutes and 47 seconds.[32]

She also writes that “one of woman’s weaknesses is her inability to leave the personal element out of thought or action”. In order to correct this a game such as basketball is best. Success in basketball can only be the result of good team-play, as a team with brilliant individuals will never be able to defeat a team of conscientious players who play for each other. As a result of this positive character traits, such as fair play, impersonal interest, earnestness of purpose and the ability to give one’s best not for one’s own glorification, but for the good of the team will be developed. To further enhance this positive effect, the division of the playing field is important again. With all players forced to stay in their set division of the playing field, all players are of rather equal importance to the team. As a player is not allowed to move freely all over the court, combination plays are also encouraged as there is no better way to move the ball up the court than by a well organized and team-based passing game.

Another argument for her female version of basketball was that “it is a well known fact that women abandon themselves more readily to an impulse than men”. She was scared that “the great desire to win and the excitement of the game will make our women do sadly unwomanly things” and writes about contests where women played with the Y.M.C.A. rules and the games were so rough and the spirits towards the visiting teams so hostile that it was obvious that women basketball had to be strictly governed by rules in order to tame the impulsive character of women. As I quoted earlier, “a certain amount of roughness is deemed necessary to bring out manliness in our young men”. While she does not directly criticise this approach to male sports, she makes clear that “surely rough play can have no possible excuse in our young women” and indicates that even though men and women are becoming more and more equal in society, the character traits they have to be taught, by means such as sports, do not have to be identical. One could conclude that it is her main aim to improve the physical condition of female students at her time to prepare them for a more and more demanding and equal work-life, while at the same time teaching values to turn the females into team-oriented, honest, hard working ladies. 

 

6. The history of female basketball in the US until today

Female basketball, as originally created by Senda Berenson and other athletic directors of her time, changed very little concerning the way it was being played for the fist 40 years of its existence[33]. Another greatly important development took place shortly after the turn of the century though, when women stopped stepping onto the court as if they were going for a walk in the neat and tidy park around the corner. Women’s outerwear and underwear of basketball’s infancy was concealing and constricting. Proper women wore floor-length dresses everywhere, including the basketball court. Not surprisingly this lead to chaotic scenes when players tripped over their dresses. At that time, Dr. Edward Morton Schaeffer wrote a ringing diatribe against the corset, calling it a “figure and health-wrecking contrivance”. In his article he urged active modern women to “burst all confining fetters and curtail necessary impediments of costume” and to adopt a divided skirt to ease movement when exercising.

But, for the modern women of these times, the idea of playing a man’s game like a man would have been outrageous, and they willingly accepted to play by the “safer” rules progressive athletic directors as Senda Berensen had created for them.

In 1895, and just three years after its birth, basketball had spread across the United States. Of course, the game had to face its critics when “previously well-bred young ladies could be seen running and falling, shrieking in excitement and, worst of all, calling each other by nicknames” on the court. A physical education teacher named Agnes Childs complained about these disturbing tendencies in 1905 in a Spalding guide to women’s basketball. “There is an irresistible temptation when a ball is rolling along the floor for the players in the vicinity to go sliding after it; nothing makes a game more rowdyish in appearance and causes more adverse criticism than this most natural temptation to go after the ball by the quickest means”. As a result of such observations, physical educators like Agnes Wayman proposed still more rule restrictions than Senda Berenson had already created to make the game more compatible with popular views of femininity. Her ideas included “neatly combed hair, no gum chewing or slang, never calling each other by last names and never lying or sitting down on the floor”. Even though Senda Berenson did not follow these ideas, she recognized that if the game did not improve its reputation for womanliness (an article in the Los Angeles Times for example carried the headline “Sweet Things Have Scrap” at that time), the game could not be allowed to flourish. She tried to arrange her games as social affairs, serving refreshments or even having dinner afterwards, an strategy known as the “Cookies and Milk-strategy”.

Over the course of its further development, the fact that sporting women gained acceptance often collided with the popular definitions of beauty. The dilemma was that team members often were required to wear makeup, look beautiful and play well.

Progress took a long time and it was not until 1924 that women self-governed their basketball competitions. Restrictive rules such as the division lines existed until 1938, when the division of the field was limited to two sections, and 1971, when the division lines were removed altogether. Men’s basketball turned Olympic two years before women moved to two sections in 1936, and women’s basketball had to wait until 1976 for its introduction to the Olympic Games in Montreal, Canada. Just three years later all equality barriers finally seem to have broken away, when Ann Meyers, a very talented basketball player from UCLA university, signed a one-year, 50.000$ contract with the NBA’s Indiana Pacers, but fails to make the team. Ever since then she is the only woman ever to try to earn a spot in the male’s NBA.

The first woman who ever made a professional men’s team was Nancy Lieberman, who became the first female to play in a men’s professional league in 1986 and 1987, when she played for the Springfield Fame. She followed that achievement with another milestone when she joined the 1987-88 Washington Generals on a world tour with the Harlem Globetrotters[34].

Even though there are no females playing professional basketball alongside men at the current time, it is easy to see that basketball has become a fully equal sport over the course of the last century. It has grown from a sport played by lady-like girls in corsets for educational and health purposes to a sport girls and women can play just as well as boys and men, without any restrictions by society. Female Basketball, as it currently exists in the United States, has, from my point of view, outgrown almost all other sports all over the world in its attractiveness for female athletes. Basketball, at least in the United States,  is professionally organized on all levels with interscholaristic and intercollegiate competitions and the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) as a goal to aim for at its top. I think that the existence of a working professional league is crucial to the growth of a sport, especially in a sports-dominated culture as in the US. The dream of playing on the big stage exists and has to exist in order to really motivate young athletes to put as much effort as they can into their sports; something men can do in basically all sports and take for granted. Young male baseball, football, hockey or basketball players always had their idols on the television set in the evening and could imagine themselves hitting a home run in the World Series, receiving a pass from Brett Favre in the Super Bowl, being Wayne Gretzky or Michael Jordan. Until the existence of the WNBA, professional female leagues, as I will point out in the last chapter of my homework, existed as well, but never grew out of their infancy, often folding shortly after they got started. It is easy to understand that a female player does not want to hit a nice shot like Michael Jordan but like Lisa Leslie, who, unlike Michael Jordan playing in the male’s NBA, has made it to an achievable stage. In order to illustrate the motivating importance of a globally marketed league such as the WNBA, I will finish this chapter with a short paragraph from an article dealing with Linda Fröhlich, the only German playing in the WNBA, in the Spiegel.[35]

“Während die Norddeutsche es in ihrer Heimat gewohnt war, vor ein paar hundert Fans in einer miefigen Turnhalle zu spielen, kamen zur Heimpremiere der New York Liberty, Anfang Juni gegen Washington, mehr als 15.000 Zuschauer. „Wenn ich die Menschenmassen sehe, bekomme ich eine Gänsehaut“, gesteht Fröhlich.“

„Bevor Linda Fröhlich ihren großen Auftritt hat, flackern Blitzlichter wie Sterne über die Ränge des Madison Square Garden. Auf dem Videowürfel unter der Decke erscheint die Freiheitsstatue, aus den Boxen hämmert Rockmusik, und Cheerleader versetzten das Publikum in Ekstase. Der Hallensprecher verkündet mit schriller Stimme „Let’s play ball!“. Das Team von New York Liberty empfängt an diesem Nachmittag die Los Angeles Sparks. Als die Spielerinnen der Heimmannschaft einzeln vorgestellt werden, hält es keinen der 14.021 Zuschauer auf dem Sitz. „Number 31…as Forward…from Germany…Linda Frolic!”

 

 

7. The history and outlook of professional female basketball in the United States

In 1974, the national media in the US really recognized the increasing interest in female basketball for the first time, when the women’s collegiate basketball national championships gained television and radio coverage[36].

At first the Women’s Professional Basketball Association was planned for 1975. The league was disbanded prior to the first game though. Shortly thereafter a professional league, the 8-team-Women’s Professional Basketball League (WBL), came into existence, but folded after struggling financially three years later. When the WBL began to experience financial problems, the rival Ladies Professional Basketball Association was founded with five teams participating. Sadly the league was poorly organized and played only five games, before disbanding with three teams never playing a game.

Even though the U.S. women’s basketball team captured its first Olympic gold medal in Los Angeles in 1984, the momentum still was not great enough to establish the first working professional league. The Women’s American Basketball Association hoped to cash in on the Olympic success and was founded by the former founder of the WBL. Once again most of the league’s teams fold during the season. Chicago and Dallas survived and met for the league championship, which was won by Dallas. A second season never started.

In 1991, the Liberty Basketball Association is launched, featuring gimmicks such as shorter courts, lower rimes and skin-tight clothing of the players. Not surprisingly, the league folds after one exhibition game between the Detroit Dazzlers and the LBA All-Stars at the Palace of Auburn Hills near Detroit. On a positive note, a crowd of 10.753 spectators showed up for the only game of the LBA and the game was televised on ESPN.

In 1992, the Women’s World Basketball Association was launched in the Midwest with six teams. It existed for three years. Even though there were plans to launch the league with 6 additional teams in 1997 this never materialized.

Prior to the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia, United States, the NBA Board of Governors decided to give women basketball a chance. Just as the Women’s American Basketball Association tried in 1984 the NBA wanted to cash in on the interest created by the upcoming Olympic Games. Luckily the US national team went on to win the gold medal and, as expected (and forced by extensive coverage), interest in basketball got a boost. But not only the NBA tried to cash in on the renewed interest with its WNBA. The American Basketball League, the ABL, tried the same, but did not have the backing of the NBA, the financially strongest basketball association in the world. There were conceptual differences between the WNBA and the ABL though. The WNBA played and still plays its season over the course of the summer and after the NBA playoffs. It is easy to see that the NBA aims for increased year-round income by filling the NBA off season with its new product. The ABL tried to go ahead during the fall and the spring instead, just as the NBA, football and hockey. Not surprisingly, the WNBA received more media coverage from day one and in 1998 the ABL looked back on a season with 4.333 fans per game on the average while the WNBA sold 10.869 tickets per game[37].

In a country where no female pro league survived for a prolonged period of time before, it became clear that one of the two had to go, and in December 1998, just two months into its third season, the ABL ran out of money. The league had not been able to attract sponsorship or any kind of television deal. It also did not help that the league’s headquarters believed until the end that the ship could be turned around. While several teams tried to attract local sponsors and media coverage, the headquarters disapproved of this, as they wanted to base their fortunes on big time sponsorship rather than local sponsorship in all markets. In the end, there were also rumours that the NBA helped to ruin the ABL by influencing corporate sponsorship and national television stations, but no lawsuit ever emerged[38].

But the WNBA has not been an only successful story throughout its first seven years. The WNBA has not been able to top its attendance record set in 1998, when 10.869 tickets were sold per game. At the end of its fifth season in 2001, average attendance had dropped to 9.075 and things have not developed positively since, with attendance standing at 8.826 in 2003.[39]

Especially the established teams of the WNBA are struggling hard at the gate, while the overall average is being kept up by teams in new markets. Over the course of its existence, the WNBA has grown from 8 to 16 teams, but experienced a setback prior to its 2003 season, when two franchises had to fold. All in all, three of the remaining 14 teams were sold, and two of them even moved to other cities, hardly signs of the league’s success[40].

Some examples for the slightly disturbing attendance issue are the Los Angeles Sparks, who have won the WNBA in 2001 and 2002. One should expect a rising attendance as a consequence of the on-court results, but surprisingly attendance fell 20% in 2003. The same can be seen in Houston, where the Comets have won the first four WNBA championships and lost 19% of their fans compared to 2002, despite finishing 2nd in the Western Conference behind the Los Angeles Sparks. Another troubled market is Cleveland, where attendance fell 21%, even though the team qualified for the playoffs. Huge drawing teams, such as the Washington Mystics, could still report an average attendance of 14,042 in 2003, but had to admit that this number was 13% lower than the season before. The Orlando Miracle, who called it quit in Orlando after 2002 with an average crowd of 7.115, tapped into a new market in Hartford for 2003. And averaged 6.025 fans in a city not as eager for a new team as ownership had counted on. One can summarize that only two out of fourteen teams saw their attendance rise by double-digits (percentage wise), and a lot more lost in the double-digits with few teams staying balanced. An example for a team with a small change are the Phoenix Mercury, who, despite finishing dead-last in the league, lost only 3% of their fans. On the other hand their number of season-ticket holders had gone down from about 8.000 to 2.000 prior to 2003, so there was not a lot to loose anymore. Aside from putting people in the seats, the WNBA struggled to attract viewers on a national level as well. Between 2000 and 2001, national TV ratings dropped from a 1.5 percent market-share to 1.1 percent. Quiet contrary to this development, ratings on local stations increased by 39% and regional stations had a 12% increase in viewer ship[41].

A very interesting fact about the WNBA concerns the make-up of a typical game day crowd. WNBA fans are primarily women who, in general, tend to be new to professional sports and have not supported traditional sports leagues such as the NBA or NFL[42]. According to facts listed in 2002 by The Christian Science Monitor[43], 65% of all fans at a WNBA-game are female. An article by CBS News from September 2003 lists the female percentage at 78%[44]. Even though both numbers are probably not absolutely correct, it is possible to assume with relative security that WNBA arenas, more than arenas of any other big market sport in the United States, are filled primarily by female fans. Of course it does not seem surprising that mostly females turn out to watch females play basketball. The surprising thing is that females are turning out to watch professional sports. Anyone who has ever been to professional sporting events, no matter whether in the United States, Canada, or Germany, has probably noticed that most fans are male and that many of the females are often “coming along”. I can’t base this on any source, but common sense should indicate that this statement is, in general, true. Things are different in the WNBA now and I can see a good marketing opportunity for sponsors, who can find a very exclusive audience at WNBA games. This, at least from my point of view, is the strongest asset of the WNBA, which, backed by marketing campaigns with the NBA, has turned into a global brand over the course of very little time.

With interest dripping on a national level, attendance struggles and financial problems the WNBA does not seem to be in a perfect shape at the end of its 7th season in the summer of 2003. But will the WNBA survive?

This question cannot be answered. I personally think that the league will survive, even though the problems on hand in some markets might lead to some more franchises being sold, moved or folded. A negative precedent is currently set by the WUSA, the Women’s United States Soccer Association, which folded this summer due to a lack of corporate sponsorship. In a letter to all soccer associations in the US, the WUSA points out its importance as a goal to aim for by younger players. It is said that every athlete needs to have a role model to look up to, and I think that without professional sports, of which many people are critical due to the insane amounts of money involved, sports in general cannot flourish or grow[45]. This sentiment can also be read into a statement made by Stacey Dales-Schuman, a player of the Washington Mystiques:

"I think we’re all history makers. I think that we’re all leaving a legacy in something that we do. Especially us women, especially in a time in which women’s sports are evolving to a new level, period. There’s a lot of folks who have come before us, and we all have the chance now to play on T.V. and to do this, to do that. It’s just really too bad we didn’t get a chance 30 years ago, 20 years ago, even 10 years ago, to see some of the great female basketball players. Your Annie Meyers, your Nancy Liebermans, your Val Ackermans, your Cheryl Millers, some of the great talents in women’s basketball that we didn’t get to see on a consistent rate playing. But fortunately we’re at a time where we have evolved and we do have that luxury now. So I think we’re all in some way tied into the history of developing women’s basketball.” [46]

Just as the World Cup is held in the United States and female soccer games are once again, just as in 1999, filling the venues around the country pretty well, professional female soccer is going down the drain. The WUSA never had the financial backing the WNBA has, and soccer does not have the same appeal to the American audience as basketball, but I don’t think he WNBA is on the safe side. I also don’t believe that any professional women’s league will ever make it if the WNBA fails in the long run. The task at hand is to motivate an ever growing number of girls to pick up basketball by showing them where basketball could take them. This might have already happened though, as, according to the 1995-1996 US National Federation of State High School Associations Survey, 445.969 girls played basketball, the most playing any girl’s sport. This number also represents 45% of the total number of high school basketball players[47].

Also, a traditional sports crowd does not consist of a lot of women, but WNBA crowds do. The financial potential in this ought not to be overlooked, as I think that in theory women are quiet as interested in sports as men are. But not in men’s sports. Professional sports for women are something new and something women have to get used to. Even though the WNBA shrank by two teams after massive expansion, I think that the idea to be present in many markets as fast as possible is an important one. The WNBA needs to show its supporters that it is not going to fold in the foreseeable future, that it there to stay and that it will be the first female pro sport with a national footprint.

If the WNBA manages to convince its sponsors and fans that it is not going the way all other professional women’s basketball leagues or the WUSA just at this time have gone before, it might turn profitable before it is too late. I personally watched some WNBA games when Premiere still carried them two seasons ago. Even though I am not a huge fan of basketball, the games were rather entertaining and the crowds a positive surprise. Maybe the current problems of the WNBA are not as bad as they are being portrayed in the media, which, out of boredom, always seems to come up with negative news first. Officially, the league is trying to find its fit in the American sports landscape. Teams are moving, teams are being sold, franchises are folding. Some cities fill their arenas, others, despite good teams on the floor, do not. Overall, all the fuss immediately reminds me of professional hockey. I can see that the NBA is probably not overwhelmingly pleased with the state of the WNBA, its mediocre national TV-ratings and the slowly but ever-decreasing attendance figures, but a lot of articles I read during the past days are painting the picture darker than it seems to be. There always seem to be numbers that indicate that it is all worthless in the first place. National TV ratings going down 40%, attendance problems in that market and financial hardship in this one seem to doom a whole league. The league needs to be allowed to place itself in a truly competitive position first. With regional and local TV-ratings increasing, this means that the product is attractive to viewers in an area where it can be directly consumed as well. It’s just unattractive if teams without ties to the viewers watch it. This consequently points to more expansion, to expansion into big markets such as Chicago or Dallas, where no teams are present but basketball has a lot of popularity. Of course there is a danger that national carriers will stop showing the games when the ratings become too low and that large sponsors will leave right after, but with the NBA and its negotiating power behind it, the WNBA should have both time and money. What the league needs is a positive atmosphere surrounding it, an atmosphere that makes it attractive for sponsors. You don’t want to advertise with something people associate with “going down the drain” at first impulse. One of the few downright positive articles I found outside the official website of the WNBA or the NBA was about this year’s finals, where Detroit won it’s first WNBA title in a thrilling series. I will finish this paper with a quotation from the article.

“And that came to mind with the juxtaposition of the WNBA ending its season at the same time the WUSA was ending operations. The women's professional soccer league said Monday it did not have enough sponsorship support to go on to a fourth season. The announcement was nightmarish in the timing, as the Women's World Cup begins this weekend.
Then Tuesday, the WNBA had its biggest-ever crowd of 22,000-plus to watch Detroit beat Los Angeles in the decisive Game 3 of the finals. The game was exciting, well-played and went down to the wire. A new champion was crowned. It was a perfect night for the young league.
Yes, it was just one night, but that's significant. There has been enough raining on the WNBA's parade. Pessimism can shut up and sit down for at least a little while after this great game.” [48]

 


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38) Women's Pro Sports: Not For Wimps, Tim Dahlberg, San Diego, CBS News Online,
      18.06.2003, http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/06/18/national/main559287.shtml

39) WUSA folding, letter to all Region I State Associations, Lynn Morgan (Women's United
       Soccer Association (WUSA) president and chief executive officer), summer 2003,
      
www.soccermaine.com/pages/03wusa.html

40) WNBA.com Celebrates Women's History Month: Stacey Dales-Schuman on Women's
      Basketball Greats, published on the homepage of the WNBA, 2003,
      http://www.wnba.com/features/womens_history_dales-schuman.html

41) From the valley to the peak in 24 hours, Mechelle Voepel, ESPN Basketball Section,
      http://espn.go.com/wnba/columns/voepel/1617900.html

 


 



[1] History of Basketball: Dr. James Naismith, Inventor of Basketball, http://www.ku.edu/heritage/graphics/people/naismith.html, 04.09.2003

[2] The History of Basketball – Hoops, http://www.all-sports-posters.com/historyofbasketball.html, 04.09.2003

[3] The Naismith Speech, Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame Homepage, History Section, 05.01.1932, http://www.hoophall.com/history/naismith_origins_2.htm, 04.09.2003

[4] Dr. James Naismith's 13 Original Rules of Basketball, created 1891 and published 1892 in the Springfield College school newspaper, rules quoted from the homepage of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), can be found in the appendix of this paper, http://www.ncaa.org/champadmin/basketball/original_rules.html

Original rules, published by the NCAA, in the appendix of this paper

[5] Basketball: James Naismith (1861-1939), http://inventors.about.com/library/inventors/blbasketball.htm, 04.09.2003

[6] Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame Homepage,  www.hoophall.com, 04.09.2003

[7] Long Live the Three, Steve Shut, Director of Public Affairs, College Basketball Southern Conference, 2000, http://www.hoophall.com/history/threepoint_shot_history.htm

[8] Basketball Growth Spurred by Family Play, Mike May, Press Release SGMA, 08.06.1998, http://www.sgma.com/press/1998/press986663791-13545.html

[9] Paid to Play: The history of basketball's first professional contest in which players were paid to play, Douglas Stark, Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame History Section, http://www.hoophall.com/history/trenton_feature.htm

[10] Who's in the NBA? Whitman Graduate Enjoying Life at Courtside, Dave Holden,  Whitman College Sports Information Director, news release date: February 26, 1996, http://www.whitman.edu/athletics/Flashback/1996-97/Spotlight/neil.html

[11] NBA finalizes TV deals: Goodbye NBC, Rudy Martzke, 22.01.2002, USA Today Money Section, http://www.usatoday.com/money/media/2002-01-22-nba.htm

[12] BSkyB obtains Premier League live rights 2004-2007, Premier League Press Release, 10.08.2003, http://www.medialog.nl/archive/2003_08_10_medialog.html

[13] The Bloom is off the rose: League fails to climb out of niche, Lisa Olson, 13.07.2003, New York Daily News Sports Section, http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/story/100369p-90758c.html

[14] Tausche HSV gegen Shaquille O’Neal, Jürgen Blöhs, September 2003, Sport1.de-Basketballsektion, http://www.sport1.de/coremedia/generator/www.sport1.de/Sportarten/Basketball/__Berichte/__NBA/Hintergrund/bb_20nba_20geh_C3_A4lter_20fu_C3_9Fball_20bundesliga_20nba_20mel.html

[15] Yao popularity driving the proposal, Associated Press, September 26th, 2003, ESPN Basketball Section, http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=1623914

[16] Yao to join collection of Reebok forces, Darren Rovell, September 25th, 2003, ESPN Basketball Section, http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=1623304

[17] Senda Berenson Papers: Series 6: Speeches, ca. 1892-1920, handwritten items prepared by Betty Spears, http://clio.fivecolleges.edu/smith/berenson/6speeches/average/transc/01.htm

[18] History of Spalding: A.G. Spalding: Our Founder, http://www.spalding.com/about/ag_Spalding.html

[19] Senda Berenson: Papers, 1875-1996 (bulk 1890-1952), Five Colleges Archives Digital Access Project, 1999, Five Colleges Inc.,  http://clio.fivecolleges.edu/smith/berenson/ 

[20] Dr. James Naismith's 13 Original Rules of Basketball, created 1891 and published 1892 in the Springfield College school newspaper, rules quoted from the homepage of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA),  http://www.ncaa.org/champadmin/basketball/original_rules.html

[21] Senda Berenson Asserts the Value of Adapted Women's Basketball, 1901, Significane of Basketball for Women (page 20-27),  Senda Berenson, New York, A.G Spalding

[22] all further quotations, unless otherwise mentioned, are taken from this article as well

[23] The Physiological Effects of Basket Ball, Theodore Hough, Ph.D, published in Senda Berenson’s “Basket Ball for Women as adopted by the Conference of Physical Training, June 1899, page 21-31, http://clio.fivecolleges.edu/smith/berenson/5pubs/bball_women/index.shtml?page=21

[24] Sports in America, James A. Michener, 1976, Ballatine Books, Canada

[25] Page 155-183

[26] The Female Athlete, Drs. Carl Klafs and M. Joan Lyon

[27] History of Women’s basketball, Sally Jenkins, published on the homepage of the WNBA (Women’s National Basketball Association), http://www.wnba.com/about_us/jenkins_feature.html

[28] The No. 1 Killer of Women: Women & Heart Disease, Christine Gorman, 11th August 2003, Time Magazine, pages 45-51, quotation from page 50

[29] Too many men on the ice: Women’s Hockey in North America, Joanna Avery & Julie Stevens, Polestar Book Publishers

[30] The Physiological Effects of Basket Ball, Theodore Hough, Ph.D, published in Senda Berenson’s “Basket Ball for Women as adopted by the Conference of Physical Training, June 1899, page 21-31, http://clio.fivecolleges.edu/smith/berenson/5pubs/bball_women/index.shtml?page=25

[31] The Significane of Basket Ball for Women, Senda Berenson, Basket Ball for Women as adopted by the conference on physical training, held in June 1899, at Springfield, Mass, http://clio.fivecolleges.edu/smith/berenson/5pubs/bball_women/index.shtml?page=35 , all further arguments in this chapter, unless otherwise marked, refer to this article as well.

[32] Women vs. men in Sports, Estronaut: A Forum for Women’s Health, GenneX Healthcare Technologies Inc., 1999, http://www.womenshealth.org/a/women_men_sports.htm

[33] all information in this chapter, unless otherwise marked, is based on the article “Women’s Basketball has come a long way” by Sally Jenkins, a senior contributing writer for Conde Nast Women’s Sport & Fitness, and published on the Women’s National Basketball Associations Website wnba.com. http://www.wnba.com/about_us/jenkins_feature.html

[34] Hall of Famers: Nancy Lieberman, Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, 2002, http://www.hoophall.com/halloffamers/nancy_lieberman.htm

[35] Basketball: Gegengift für die Egomanen, Maik Grossekathöfer, Der Spiegel, Sportsektion, Seite 96, Ausgabe 30/2003, original article can be found in the appendix of this paper

[36] The following overview is, unless marked different, based on the following two sources: 
“Women’s Basketball has come a long way” by Sally Jenkins, a senior contributing writer for Conde Nast Women’s Sport & Fitness, and published on the Women’s National Basketball Associations Website wnba.com. http://www.wnba.com/about_us/jenkins_feature.html and

History of Women’s Professional Basketball, Robert Bradley, APBR.org, The Association for Professional Basketball Research, http://hometown.aol.com/bradleyrd/women.html
 

[37] Women’s league shoots to score during the NBA labor war, Douglas Robson, summer 1998, San Francisco Business Times, http://www.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/stories/1998/10/19/story5.html

[38] Former Team Official Recounts the A.B.L.'s Dizzying Descent, Lena Williams, April 2nd 1999, New York Times, http://www.geocities.com/Colosseum/Gym/8414/special.html

[39] WNBA Attendance Data, provided and compiled by Womensbasketballonline.com,  http://www.womensbasketballonline.com/wnba/attendance/attendance03.PDF

[40] WNBA prepares to begin after offseason of huge change, Mel Greenberg, Knight Ridder newspaper, Philadelphia, published on May 21, 2003 in the Seattle Times, http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/seattlestorm/134781135_wnba21.html

[41] WNBA regular season ends with attendance still an issue, W. Scott Bailey, September 8th 2003, San Antonio Business Journal, http://www.bizjournals.com/sanantonio/stories/2003/09/08/newscolumn1.html

[42] WNBA Is Facing Growing Pains, Kathy Orton, September 4th 2003, Washingtno Post, http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A36952-2001Sep3?language=printer

[43] Women's pro basketball wins fans all its own, Justin Brown, Special to The Christian Science Monitor, 19.07.2002, http://www.csmonitor.com/atcsmonitor/specials/women/sports/sports071902.html

[44] Women's Pro Sports: Not For Wimps, Tim Dahlberg, San Diego, 18.06.2003, http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/06/18/national/main559287.shtml

[45] WUSA folding, letter to all Region I State Associations, Lundi McCarthey, www.soccermaine.com/pages/03wusa.html

[46] WNBA.com Celebrates Women's History Month: Stacey Dales-Schuman on Women's Basketball Greats, 2003, http://www.wnba.com/features/womens_history_dales-schuman.html

[47] The Women’s Game: Distinctions and Opportunities, page 249, Too many men on the ice: Women’s Hockey in North America, Joanna Avery & Julie Stevens, Polestar Book Publishers

[48] From the valley to the peak in 24 hours, Mechelle Voepel, ESPN Basketball Section, http://espn.go.com/wnba/columns/voepel/1617900.html