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It is not surprising that in the run of history women had to gain their independence and equal rights with men in various spheres of life. It was sport that among others activities could make women feel free, satisfied, and happy. From the historical records, it is obvious that women took part in different sports events and competitions before the birth of Christ. For example, the Spartans were sure that sport was good for women who were expected order to be healthy and strong mothers. Not only times, but the attitudes to women in sport have changed, as men considered women to be not athletic champions, but just good wives and mothers and provided their appropriate roles in the family and society (Cahn, 1994, p.42). This approach to women still exists in many countries, being justified by different religious views and cultural traditions. However, the United States of America is a country with equal rights and opportunities for both men and women. That is why, there are great chances for women to succeed in different kinds of sports, to take part in sport events, and to gain awards in Olympic Games and other important sports competitions.
Women`s sport is as popular now as men`s. Many careers in sports are occupied by women who are really successful and strong enough to bring awards to their countries. One can hardly find any international sports event, where women do not take part (Cahn, 1994, p.48). The author of this study intends to illustrate the role of women in sports, their impressive progress, and great achievements in this sphere. Women in sports are making great contribution to the development of various kinds of sports as well as they keep the history in progress, gaining higher results and achievements and enriching peoples` lives with positive emotions and fulfillment. The USA is to be really proud of their outstanding women in sport who are well-known all over the world, regardless of the fact that sport was preliminarily dominated by men.
The purpose of this research is to overview the outstanding achievements of women in sports that can be done through thorough consideration of different sources and sports events in recent decades. The talented athletic women have contributed a lot to the development of various playing fields. Due to the 1960s and 1970s movement of women their participation in sports became significant at various levels. The women`s movement of that period made a great contribution to the sports development. It is worth mentioning here the U.S. Government legislation signed by President Richard Nixon (1972). Due to Title IX, women are guaranteed to have equal rights with men in all fields of athletics including education, sports programs and others. Girls and women are also guaranteed to get academic education in sports without any gender discrimination. Nowadays, girls and women are participating in such kinds of sports as soccer, ice hockey, wrestling and others. One-third of American female students today play sports. As a result, more and more women have involved in sports competition, getting different awards, as it happened with the women`s soccer team who won Olympic medals in 1999. According to the research (Woolum, 1998), more and more women and girls participate in athletic events. Many people watch women`s sports games on TV more frequently than men`s. For instance, women`s professional tennis has become more interesting than men`s.
Coaching sports has been a man`s world and there exists an opinion among many sports professionals that coaching is mainly the duty of men but not women. According to statistics, sports clubs, high-schools, colleges and universities have dominating men`s job positions. Mostly men are coaching all kinds of sports, especially women`s sports. Due to the fact that women`s participation and success in different kinds of sports increases, the number of women coaches has grown lately. There is no place for gender discrimination in professional sports, especially if there are talented women sportsmen and coaches (Fleser, 2009, p.56). According to some records, the percentage of women coaching is lower than men`s. Athletics directors and sports executives point out that there is no gender discrimination in hiring men or women as coaches. There have always existed the mail hiring trend and it is really difficult in some cases to break the rules and find a good woman coach. Most sports executives admit that women coaches are highly professional and responsible, demonstrating perfect skills and abilities, what gives them a competitive advantage to occupy so-called men`s positions in sports (Griffith, 2010, p.25).
There are some outstanding women in sports who are making contribution to the sports development and the country`s history. Here we intend to overview college basketball coaches Pat Summit, C. Vivian Stringer, and Nancy Liebermann.
Pat Summit (born in 1952, Tennessee) is known as a college basketball coach who has come into the sport history as ever-known NCAA basketball coach with the highest rate of wins among men and women. She was coaching since 1974 in Tennessee Lady Vols basketball team and her team managed to win eight times in NCAA national basketball championships. She was second to the men`s basketball coach John Wooden from UCLA who had ten titles.
The total number of victories where Pat Summit was coaching is 1,000, what makes her to be number one coach in NCAA basketball history. Her name was placed on the list of fifty greatest coaches in the sports history. It is worth admitting that she was the only woman among men in that list (Woolum, 1998, p.29). She was awarded different titles and prizes for her contribution in women’s sport, such as the greatest coach of all times in all sports (2009); the Presidential Medal of Freedom (April, 2012). Pat Summit has never lost a season during her thirty-eight years career of coaching. The fact that in April, 2012she was announced by the White House to be included in the list that consisted of thirteen honorees of the highest American civilian honor: the President Medal of Freedom was remarkable for Pat Summit and her fans .
Pat Summit started her career at the age of twenty-two and dedicated her life to basketball as a coach of women`s basketball team, known as Lady Vols. Her personal list of wins and titles is rather extended. During her long thirty-eight-year career of coaching those interacting with her got success on the courts and achieved new heights in sports (Griffith, 2010, p.12). Summit, who has brought 1,071 victories in the national sport coaching history, plans to continue coaching, feeling herself strong enough to struggle with the Alzheimer’s disease, which she was diagnosed last year.
C. Vivian Stringer
Vivian Stringer (born in 1948) is an outstanding basketball coach of African American origin and is one of the most recognizable figures in sports coaching. She is known as the third in the list of winningest coaches in the women`s basketball history, standing behind Pat Summit and Jody Conradt. She made a brilliant career as a national basketball coach and is known and honored by all basketball players all over the world. Stringer is currently coaching the women`s basketball team in the Rutgers University (New Jersey). C. Vivian Stringer is famous for her contribution to the development and success of the national sport. She was the first basketball coach who led three different programs to the NCAA Final Four and brought seven wins from the last ten basketball championships (Woolum, 1998, p. 31). Entering her forty-first season she may be proud of numerous awards and titles which she was awarded during this period, such as: Naismith College Coach of the Year (1993). In 2002 the U.S. Sports Academy named annual women`s coaching award in C. Vivian Stringer`s honor. In 2009 Stringer was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame. Among other awards, three times Stringer was named the National Coach of the Year: in 1982 (Wade Trophy); 1988 (Converse) and 1993 (Naismith).
Stringer`s coaching is famous for its strong and aggressive defense that wins the championships. She is regarded to be number one in back-to-back games where opponents feel overhelmed and frustrated. The usage of different techniques made C. Vivian Stringer one of the most outstanding women`s basketball coaches in the history of sport.
Nancy Libermann (born in 1958, Brooklyn, NY) is known under her nickname “Lady Magic” has played basketball and coached in the WNBA (Woolum, 1998, p. 35). She is in the list of outstanding American women basketball players and coaches of the whole national history, whose name will be memorized by millions of players and professionals in the 20th and 21st centuries. At 17 she was called American team roster, because she was three years younger than the other girls in the team and was regarded as the youngest basketball player. At the age of eighteen, Liebermann attended Old Dominion University (Norfolk, Virginia), where her professional career started. Since then she took part in numerous basketball championships, won the games, and got awards, such as: Wade Trophy, where she was the first two-time winner; Broderick Award for being a national player of the year in college women`s basketball; All-America Awards and others. She earned her nickname “Lady Magic” when she was playing Earvin “Magic’ Johnson of NBA fame and since then it stands today (Griffith, 2010).
Liberman`s sport career as a women`s basketball coach started in 2009 in the NBA Development League. She is known as the first woman who was coaching a professional men`s basketball team. Nowadays Nancy Libermann lives in Dallas, where she works as an assistant GM and runs a summer basketball camp for children. Her contribution to the national basketball makes her famous among professionals and future basketball players as she is known to be a special contributor to nine-year-old girls` team in Southlake: “Blue Streak.”
It is a common thing that outstanding women in sports never stop their activities even if they are getting older. It is a good example for those who intend to stay fit and active for many years in life.
In conclusion, it is worth mentioning that the research concerning the role of the outstanding women in sports was worth to be done. Having studied different researchers, it became obvious that throughout the history of sports in the United States women had to gain their independence and equal rights with men in order to participate in different fields of sport. For a long period of time men were considered to be the only participants in sports events and competitions. On the other hand, women were supposed to play their so-called appropriate roles, staying at home and caring only about men and children. Times have changed and attitudes upon women’s roles have transformed as well. The modern society regards women as equal counterparts in different kinds of sports. They are able to get academic education in sports, play sports, win Olympic awards as well as it becomes possible for them to go ahead men in coaching, training and playing various sports. The number of outstanding women in sports is gradually increasing, because sports gains recognition among people all over the world. Women in sports have created a specific atmosphere of achievements.
Many people all over the world realize the importance of sport in everyday life. This is one of the main reasons to stay in good health and shape. Those women who achieved success in sport have made the American history and American citizens be really proud of them. It became clear that to achieve sports goals and make contribution to American sports good athletic skills are necessary.