Handbook on the Economics of Women in Sports
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Handbook on the Economics of Women in Sports

Edited by Eva Marikova Leeds and Michael A. Leeds

Women’s sports have received much less attention from economists than from other social scientists. This Handbook fills that gap with a comprehensive economic analysis of women’s sports. It also analyzes how the behavior and treatment of female athletes reflect broad economic forces.
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Chapter 3: Individual decision-making in a social context: the sociological determinants of female sports participation

Judith Stull


In the fall of 2011, Pinckney Community High School experienced the most unusual homecoming football game in its history. Barely an hour after being crowned homecoming queen, Pinckney senior Brianna Amat kicked the winning field goal in a 9–7 victory over rival Grand Blanc High School (Maynard, 2011). At halftime, Brianna appeared on the field with her court. The courtiers were dressed in long gowns, while the queen appeared in her football uniform. For one evening, at least, Ms Amat and the community in which she lived were able to bridge the worlds of femininity and athleticism. Unfortunately, while such accounts are inspiring for many, they are relatively rare. Girls and women still need to navigate conflicting social expectations. Among the ways in which girls and women ‘get to understand their roles’ is through parental expectations, peer pressure, and the media. Indeed, girls and women are not only the object of these pressures; they in turn participate in their enforcement as well. Female athletes are particularly subject to societal pressure because of cultural lag. The concept of cultural lag was first developed by William Ogburn (1922) and later elaborated by Woodard (1934). Ogburn saw cultural lag as the result of conflict between a society’s material and non-material culture. At some risk of oversimplification, material culture refers to the physical resources that help provide a collection of individuals with a unifying identity.

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