- The Girl and the Game: A History of Women's Sport in Canadaby M. Ann Hall
M. Ann Hall, author of several foundational books on women's sport and feminism, has dedicated her career to uncovering and understanding women's sport in Canada. Hall's second edition of The Girl and the Gamewill replace the first edition, published in 2002, as the most comprehensive book on Canadian women's sport history. The book's accessible, teachable style, coupled with Hall's meticulous research on women's sport, has made it a go-to on my bookshelf.
Hall's impressive research remains the strength of the book. Certainly, the bibliography is the most comprehensive guide to women's sport history in Canada and should be consulted as such. While some of the chapters remain similar to the first edition, others are significantly updated, as Hall weaves in the extensive research that has been done by scholars and students over the past fifteen years. Of note is her engagement with Aboriginal women's sport participation, an engagement that tackles, head on, one of the critiques of the first edition, that it was predominantly a history of white women. Throughout the book, there are new sections that focus on the accomplishments of Aboriginal women as athletes, coaches, organizers, and administrators, while also offering critical discussions about the challenges these women faced, overcame, and in many cases continue to face in light of race and gender discrimination in Canadian sport and society. In this way, this edition emphasizes the central and important role Aboriginal women play in the development of sport and recreation in Canada.
In the first chapter of the book, "Aboriginals, Colonialism, and Early Victorian Sport," Hall takes up Mary Louise Pratt's notion of "contact zones" to discuss the colonial relations between Aboriginal and white women. The chapter explores Aboriginal girls' and women's traditional sports and games prior to contact with European explorers and settlers. Anchoring her analysis to the assertion that the mainstream Canadian sport system "privileges the values and traditions of primarily white, Euro Canadians who dominate it and hold the most power" (287), Hall thoughtfully incorporates Aboriginal women's experiences into the text through discussions of the residential school system; the Aboriginal Sport Circle; often overlooked Aboriginal champions such as Phyllis "Yogi" Bomberry, Bev Beaver, Martha Benjamin, Roseanne Allen, Sharon and Shirley Firth, and more widely recognized sportswomen such as Waneek Horn-Miller and Colette Bourgonje. To be sure, Hall's engagement with the sporting past of Aboriginal women addresses the intersections of race, gender, and the colonial project in new and important ways.
In the concluding chapter, a new addition to the book, Hall considers how trends and issues of today have their origins in past moments and events to consider what we have learned about the history of women's sport and how it can shape the future. Further, she reminds us that history is "complicated and messy" and "never evolves in a straight line" (297). In the first edition, she challenged scholars to fill in the gaps of women's sporting past; in this edition, she goes further, advocating for change both in Canada and throughout [End Page 107]the world. More specifically, Hall urges us to consider the effectiveness of the approach from which we choose to bring about change.
This second edition of The Girl and the Gameis a long-awaited update of a foundational text. Some of the critiques of the first edition still hold true for this edition; in particular, Hall chooses a narrative approach over one that engages with a nuanced analysis of how sport shapes, and is shaped by, cultural meanings of gender and sexuality (Karen Dubinsky, " The Girl and the Game: A History of Women's Sport in Canada[book review]," Sociology of Sport Journal20.1 : 78–79). This critique notwithstanding, Hall's reflection on the past, present, and future of Canadian women's...