The emergence of American women in the Summer Olympic Games 1900-1972

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Paula D. Welch (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Gail Hennis

Abstract: The modern Olympic Games began in 1896 with the absence of women competitors. Baron Pierre de Coubertin, patriarch of the modern Olympic era, adamantly opposed the inclusion of women in Olympic sport. It was Coubertin's wish to revive the Games in light of the male Greek ideal. In spite of Coubertin's chauvinistic beliefs women gradually gained entry into Olympic competition. American women made an unheralded appearance in the Paris Games of the second Olympiad. Sport events were overshadowed by the Paris Exposition of 1900 and little is reported regarding the successful golfers who won the first three places in women's golf competition. The second appearance of American women occurred during the St. Louis Olympics of 1904 when a few competitors entered archery, an unofficial event. The puritanical beliefs of James E. Sullivan, President of the Amateur Athletic Union of the United States (AAU) and organizer of the American Olympic team of 1896, kept American women out of official Olympic competition. After Sullivan's death in 1914, the AAU assumed control of women's swimming and served as a primary influence in promoting sport for women. Additional opposition to women competing in Olympic sport came from society in general. Furthermore, the conservative views toward competition by women physical educators during the 1920s curtailed intercollegiate and interscholastic sport until the 1960s. Most women have entered Olympic competition as a result of competitive experiences outside the context of educational institutions.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 1975
Women athletes $z United States $x History $y 20th century
Olympics $x History $y 20th century
Sports for women $z United States $x History $y 20th century

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