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There is no question that sports have changed women. Female sports participation has proven positive effects that are related to academic achievement; job success; positive self-esteem; reduced incidence of self-destructive behaviors like smoking, drugs, sex at a young age, and teen pregnancy; and physical and mental health benefits. By and large, sports have been empowering and have even changed, in fundamental ways, what it means to be a woman.

But have women changed sports? Why is it that despite the widespread participation of women and girls in sports, a team of ten-year-old boys would be told by their male coach (as recently happened to one of our sons) that the reason they lost their soccer game is because they “played too womany”? And why is it that this remark strikes so few people as offensive? Has women’s participation in sports changed the norms of femininity for women, but not the norms of masculinity for men?



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