Challenges Faced By Female Athletes (Physical/Mental Obstacles and Social Influences on Woman Athletes)

Date of Award

Spring 2014

Document Type


First Advisor

Rebecca Overmyer-Velazquez


As women athletes are starting to gain more attention and recognition, society begins to create this ideal image of what a professional woman athlete should look like. The media has portrayed this image of fit athletes who are capable of succeeding at their sport, while at the same time displaying their femininity. These advertisements have caused athletes to chase this ideal image and emulate the star athletes of today. Some athletes will deal with issues regarding their identity as well as their body image and can suffer lasting effects such as bulimia or anorexia. Research has shown that female collegiate athletes are in a constant struggle to reconcile as being a woman and an athlete Through these readings, we can get a better view of the struggles women athletes go through today, the effect the media has on the public, and the cultural understanding of what it means to be feminine. Collected data through depth interviews with collegiate woman athletes varying from Division 1 as well as Division 3 athletes. The interviews from these individuals will come from an array of sports like swimming, track and field, basketball, water polo, soccer, volleyball, and lacrosse. These individuals will give me a better understanding of some of the issues woman athletes face in college as well as their self-identification regarding femininity. My initial findings so far have contrasted previous research regarding media’s effect on women athletes, but much of the other aspects or struggles that female athletes go through has matched the previous research. I have learned that the media has had a very minimal effect on American college female athletes and that these individuals merely look up to them for their athletic prowess rather than their appearance. Through my literature review, I argue that women sports, as well as the accomplishments of female athletes, are underappreciated and that we lack the understanding of the difficulties and obstacles these athletes face on a daily basis. We take women athletes for granted and don’t comprehend the physical, mental as well as social pressures these athletes go through. A common misconception about women is that we, as a society, are a cause for their unpopularity compared to the men sports. I argue that although society, as a whole, is a big contributor to the women’s sports lack of attention, yet it


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