Ohio Northern University history professor Russ Crawford will be joining SSI to present on his recent research and book release about women playing football called Women's American Football.
He may be joined by a local women's football player for his talk.
Please contact SSI Research Chair Chris Knoester if you would like to be a part of the SSI Research Working Group and/or join us for this talk.
About the Book
Tackle football has been primarily viewed as a male sport, but at a time when men’s participation rates are decreasing, an increasing number of women are entering the gridiron—and they have a long history of doing so. Women’s American Football is a narrative history of girls and women participating in American football in the United States since the 1920s, when a women’s team played at halftime during an early NFL game. The women’s game became more organized in 1974, when the National Women’s Football League was established, with notable teams such as the Dallas Bluebonnets, Toledo Troopers, Oklahoma City Dolls, and Detroit Demons.
Today there are two main professional leagues in the United States: the Women’s Football Alliance, with nearly seventy teams, and the Women’s National Football Conference, with eighteen, in addition to a number of smaller leagues. The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics and the NFL have recently begun sponsoring flag football teams at the college level, and the game is growing for high school girls as well. In 2021 more than two thousand girls played on mostly boys’ teams, and there are currently four all-girls leagues in the United States and Canada, in Manitoba, Utah, Indiana, and New Brunswick.
In addition to the rapid growth of women playing football, there have been advancements in other areas of the game. Beginning with Jennifer Welter in 2015, several women have earned positions coaching the professional game. In 2020 ESPN aired Born to Play, a documentary on the Boston Renegades, the 2019 champion of the Women’s Football Alliance.
Based on extensive interviews with women players and focusing closely on leagues, teams, and athletes since the passage of Title IX in 1972, Russ Crawford illuminates the rich history of the women who have played football, breaking barriers on and off the field.