Greetings, all! Thank you for taking a moment to visit our podcast page! It has been a wonderful experience to get to work together and create media based on sports history. In our podcast, you will find that we’ve taken the format of a long-running sports podcast, which we have dubbed, The All-American Sports Show. In this episode, titled “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend”, we cover the formation of the AAGPBL (see title) and how it has impacted sports for women since its existence. In the show, we each take on a character persona but still use our true names to refer to each other. In following the long-running show format, two of us are hosts, presumably since the show’s beginning, and the other two are “experts” who we’ve brought in to help cover the day’s topic. We are:
As you listen, you’ll get a sense of the unique personas we all take on and you’ll see why we had such a good time recording this. We only hope that it will give you listeners as much joy and knowledge as we gained from making it. Please have a listen and enjoy the hard work we put into this!
Works Cited / Recommended Reading:
Pierman, Carol J. “Baseball, Conduct, and True Womanhood.” Women’s Studies Quarterly, Vol.
33, No. 1/2, Women and Sports (Spring-Summer 2005), pp. 68-85. The Feminist Press at the City University of New York. http://www.jstor.org/stable/40005502
“Baseball: a league of their own.” Off Our Backs, Vol. 22, No. 3, 1992: When will it end?
(March 1992), p. 8. http://www.jstor.org/stable/20833971
Heaphy, Leslie A. “More than a Man’s Game: Pennsylvania’s Women Play Ball.” Pennsylvania
Legacies, Vol. 7, No. 1 (May 2007), pp. 22-25, 27. The Historical Society of Pennsylvania. http://www.jstor.org/stable/27765079
The Women of the All-American Professional Baseball League: A Biographical Dictionary. Call
number: GV875.A56 M34 1997 (reference book)
Baseball: An Encyclopedia of Popular Culture. Edward J. Rielly. p.323-327. Call number: GV867.64 .R52 2000 (reference book)
The Women’s Sports Encyclopedia. Markel, Waggnoer, Smith. P.23-30. Call number:
There’s a battle going on in the world of sports today. It isn’t for baseball or basketball, rugby or soccer. It’s a team-based effort, involving skill, intellect, and trained physical ability, yet it hasn’t existed for a second of its life without having its legitimacy questioned. Despite this, even in its infancy it’s growing faster than anyone could have imagined, and it goes by the name of “esports”.
So then, what exactly are esports? Essentially, esports are video games that can be played at a highly competitive level, either by talented individuals or coordinated, skilled teams depending on the game. Titles such as League of Legends and DOTA 2 are among the biggest of these esports, whereas Super Smash Bros. and the relatively new team-based shooter game, Overwatch also garner much attention in the esports world, with Overwatch even having an entire esports league developed around it.
The issue with esports is that they aren’t often considered viable. Why is this? I’d argue that a good amount of the bias comes from the fact that we’ve never seen anything like them before. Everything previously considered a sport has generally kept a few key features. With the invention of baseball, basketball, rugby, soccer, and even cricket, all these major sports include acts of intense physical activity at some point or another, namely running. Because of this focus on the physical, esports are criticized in the same way that chess is, as they aren’t highly physical games.
Take, for instance, how Guttmann defines sports in his well-renowned piece From Ritual to Record: The Nature of Modern Sports. An excellent introductory piece to modern sports, Guttmann breaks down play, games, and sports into multiple dichotomies. Play can either be spontaneous or organized. When it’s organized it becomes a game, which can either be noncompetitive or competitive. If a game is competitive, it can be an intellectual contest or a physical contest, in which it is finally recognized as a sport.
However, this argument causes issues for even Guttmann when attempting to categorize car and horse racing, as both require physical ability and exertion from the individual, yet also rely on a horse or car. This suggests that the problem is with how we have adapted our view of what a sport is across history.
In his review of Spivey’s work on the ancient Greek Olympic Games, Van Nijf writes that, “Spivey is certainly right to emphasize the military (and political) associations of the games, but […] [t]he earliest accounts of sport suggest a different line: in Homer, athletic competition was used to establish man’s value among his peers, not as a form of warfare.”
So if the initial purpose of sport was to establish value, why is it that we focus so heavily on the physical aspects of sports, to where something that is equally challenging is denied acceptance as a sport? Esports require the same teamwork, intelligence, and coordination that, say, basketball does, yet because it is less about running and more about quick hand-eye-coordinated movements it is illegitimate?
As written in Educational Technology, “esports should be considered a legitimate sport because they combine ‘abilities such as hand-eye-coordination, dexterity, and reaction speed as well as tactical understanding. Players are organized into teams […] and often are sponsored internationally.’” Interestingly, these are the same things that major sports include.
For instance, take team Cloud 9 from Overwatch. They’re a professional team that practices together in just the same way as, say, the University of Michigan Wolverines might. However, both teams have hilariously suffered embarrassments of failed coordination in the past. As noted in Reader’s Digest, in 1993, Chris Webber of the Wolverines called for a time-out losing North Carolina at 73-71 with only 11 seconds on the clock. Unfortunately, his team was out of time-outs, and thus he was given a technical foul, losing his team the game 77-71. Similarly, Cloud 9 (or C9) lost multiple rounds in Overwatch for failing to communicate and realize that an enemy was capturing their objective. Forever on, in any game played of Overwatch, if a game is lost due to failing to pay mind to the objective, the failure is referred to as a “C9” (a video of this is attached to the post).
In conclusion, in esports, you have the same level of organization and competition that Guttmann calls for in sports, and you not only have physical ability involved, but also intellectual ability. Not only that, but there are teams, leagues, and rules just like sports. The physical requirements may not necessarily be as taxing as, say, running around, but the amount of training and physical challenge required (see the player who averages 5-6 controller inputs per second in the attached Melee video) in esports is definitely the same and should no doubt qualify it as a sport. They not only include everything required for sports, but also bridge the gap between the intellectual and physical divide that once existed in definitions of sport.