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Reviewed by:
  • Playing for Equality: Oral Histories of Women Leaders in the Early Years of Title IX by Diane LeBlanc and Allys Swanson, and: Invisible Seasons: Title IX and the Right for Equity in College Sports by Kelly Belanger
  • Maria J. Veri
LeBlanc, Diane, and Allys Swanson. Playing for Equality: Oral Histories of Women Leaders in the Early Years of Title IX. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co, Inc., 2016. Pp. vii+191. Notes, references, index. $29.95, hb.
Belanger, Kelly. Invisible Seasons: Title IX and the Right for Equity in College Sports. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2016. Pp. xi+363. Appendices, notes, bibliography, index. $44.95, hb.

The forty-fifth anniversary of the passage of Title IX was celebrated on June 23, 2017. In anticipation of this date, many scholars and advocates of gender equity in education published work that notes the landmark legislation's impact on opportunities for girls and women in scholastic and university sport. Two recently published books that fall into this [End Page 257] category are Diane LeBlanc and Allys Swanson's Playing for Equality and Kelly Belanger's Invisible Seasons.

Playing for Equality is a slim volume of biographical sketches of female physical education and sport leaders before and after the passage of Title IX in 1972. The book, which features eight women, was developed from a larger project of interviews with fifty past presidents and national award recipients of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance. In the introduction, LeBlanc and Swanson point the reader to key texts on Title IX and briefly discuss figural dates related to women's struggle for competitive sport opportunities but make it clear that a comprehensive review of Title IX and gender equity in sport is beyond the scope of their book. The authors make use of the remaining introductory material to explain their book's organizational structure and introduce the eight women profiled (Catherine Allen, Ruth Schellberg, Celeste Ulrich, Fay Biles, Dorothy McIntyre, Willye White, Doris Corbett, and Anita DeFrantz) before concluding with a useful chronological chart that details governance of women's physical education, sport, and athletics from 1885 to the present.

The following eight chapters, arranged chronologically by the time period of each woman's career, follow a similar pattern, beginning with a capsule of the subject's professional accomplishments and/or key influences and then tracing her life experiences from childhood through retirement (or present-day engagements). The profiles are punctuated with interview excerpts, providing readers with firsthand reflections and a greater sense of each woman's personality. We learn, for example, about Catherine Allen's early musical and educational influences and about her work as a Red Cross volunteer recreation director during World War II. Allen drew on her physical education and recreation training—as well as her accordion skills—in her work with executive officers and troops in the South Pacific. Another pioneering leader in physical education of girls and women, Ruth Schellberg, is presented as an early environmentalist. An avid canoer and longtime Camp Fire Girls director, she was committed to empowering women through teaching wilderness skills and providing them with structured camping programs.

In Chapter 3, readers are introduced to the first woman in a position of leadership in the Title IX era, Celeste Ulrich, the longtime professor of physical education at the University of North Carolina–Greensboro and then dean at the University of Oregon. Ulrich grappled with what many female sport leaders of her time did: the concern that women's intercollegiate athletics would suffer if the opportunities brought by Title IX enforcement and NCAA control of women's intercollegiate athletics imposed a model of governance that prioritized winning and revenue generation over academics and participation. The profile of Minnesota physical educator Dorothy McIntyre in Chapter 5 shifts the focus from college athletics to high school athletic programs and the struggle to create sustainable competitive opportunities for girls at that level. In Chapter 6, readers are introduced to track and field Olympian Willye White, who, at age 16 in 1956, was Mississippi's second female athlete and first black athlete to represent the United States in international competition. White went on to compete in five...


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