In my research, I write about novels written for teenage girls set in schools and colleges. In the American series I have examined, basketball plays an important role in sociability among schoolgirls. I wonder what Marjorie Dean, Grace Harlowe, and their chums would make of women’s basketball today. As the Final Four of the NCAA Division I tournament unfolds, one thinks of how much the game has changed since its introduction in the 1890s. Certainly the uniforms are quite different, as are the rules. According to the Spalding Guide published in 1911, “When a ball has been caught with both hands it shall not be bounded on the floor, but must be thrown within three seconds … . If a player catches the ball with one hand she may bound it on the floor with one hand, once only, in order to catch it with both hands securely” (p. 18). No such thing as a fast break!
But, despite the limitations imposed by the rules, basketball provided both fictional characters and their real life counterparts with opportunities for physical exertion and competition, as well as new opportunities to socialize with other young women.
[A similar post to this one appears on the site about my collaborative research project: Transnational Femininities."]