Sports Heroines on Film

A Critical Study of Cinematic Women Athletes, Coaches and Owners


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About the Book

It’s hard to find females in leading roles as athletes, coaches and owners in sports film story lines. With an abundance of male-focused stories, Hollywood continues to reinforce the association of athleticism with masculinity. Portrayals of women in prominent roles indicate social attitudes and values and—when looked at over time—also show what influence the women’s movement has had on cinematic representation and social understandings. This discussion of sports film heroines begins with National Velvet (1944) and ends with Secretariat (2010). It addresses the question of whether these story lines do or do not empower women as characters and role models, while offering alternative cinematic choices that reflect the true and ever-growing history of women in sports.

About the Author(s)

Filmmaker, film lover and activist Viridiana Lieberman lives in Brooklyn, New York. She holds a master’s degree in women’s studies from Florida Atlantic University.

Bibliographic Details

Viridiana Lieberman
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 200
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2015
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7661-9
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1693-3
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Preface 1
Introduction 3
1. Dismount: The Façade of Female Empowerment 17
2. Hitting Foul: Missed Opportunities in A League of Their Own and Whip It 36
3. M.V.P.: The Most Vulnerable Player in Children’s Sports Films 57
4. Love-Love: Struggling to Make a Point in Her Own Sport 77
5. Illegal Substitution: Replacing One (Wo)Man with Another 102
6. Measured and Recorded: Cinematic Female Coaches 126
7. Principal Interest: Cinematic Female Owners 151
Conclusion 168
Chapter Notes 177
Bibliography 185
Index 189

Book Reviews & Awards

“Lieberman has provided good textual analysis for the films she discussed while noting significant patterns of the way in which films deny female athletes autonomous self-definition”—Nordic Sport Science Forum.