Dr. Bonnie J. Morris has been a college professor for 25 years and is seasoned in the fields of sports and women’s history. She has taught at colleges including George Washington University, Georgetown, and St. Mary’s College, and is currently teaching women’s history at UC Berkeley.
She also uses her experience to help out at the National Museum of Women’s History. This is not her first book; she has written 19 already. She constructs her courses in a strategic and efficient way that promotes critical thinking, inquisitivity, and changes in preconceived notions. Dr. Morris also ensures that her courses appeal to a classroom of various college majors, including things like, “films for film majors” and “ad campaigns for business majors” (Morris 15). This clever method is crucial in grasping the attention of all students in the class.
I appreciate how the book’s prologue gives a timeline that starts with Native American female athletes before European colonization, and ends with the successes of Sabrina Ionescu, an NCAA legend and WNBA star. The timeline is full of information about the challenges and many achievements of women in sports, including the watershed example in 1973 when professional tennis player Billie Jean King famously beat Bobby Riggs in three sets in a nationally televised event.
Then in 2007, Aheda Zanneti created a modest swimsuit catering to Muslim women, dubbing it the “burkini”. However, it was heavily criticized and even banned in France at one point. The book immediately gives a lot of information, supplying the reader with a head start on some of the most important topics that are introduced in the professor’s course, and will later be mentioned in the book. The information serves as a valuable introduction to the law known as, “Title IX”, which has been put in place, in the United States, to help put an end to sex discrimination as well as other issues that affect women in this country (Title IX and Sex Discrimination).
In chapter 1 (page 43), Dr. Morris acknowledged an issue that I am very opinionated about regarding feminism—that it often fails to include black women and often does not attempt to do so. As a black girl, I know firsthand that we are constantly fighting two battles: racism, where we are not seen as equal with any other race of women; and sexism, where we are not seen as equal with men.
The author states that while white women fought to get out of domestic work, they ignored the domestic work that black women were confined to. To mention such a major and overlooked topic so early in the book shows how open-minded the author is to understand that sexism cannot be discussed nor resolved without acknowledging racism that plays a part in it.
The author includes a student’s comment in chapter 3 (page 90) that women are not able to build a lot of muscle for their sport without being labeled as a “lesbian” and other women acknowledged that the assumed homosexuality is placed on women who compete aggressively in their sport. My question in addition to such valid statements is: “If women are competing against women, why does that jeopardize our femininity…again, we’re playing against other women, how much more feminine can it get?”
On page 112, one of her students mentions the pressures of going as far as to wear makeup despite participating in sweat-inducing exercise. I believe that false eyelashes and acrylic nails worn by women in sports are used because sports and femininity have been made mutually exclusive topics.
I too, feel the pressure to wear makeup while on the basketball court and softball field to maintain my feminine appearance in sports that are often characterized as masculine. I have noticed my teammates and opponents wear makeup as well, and I sense that it may be for the same reasons. Some women are willing to accept the discomfort of makeup and potential breakouts of wearing it, amidst sweating, if it means that the fans still recognize us as feminine women who just happen to participate in intense, competitive activities.
In the book's conclusion, the author includes many of her students' detailed responses to the issues that they believe COVID-19 has imposed on women’s sports such as: increased difficulty with planning to start a family, and the consistent pay discrepancies between the United States men’s and women’s soccer teams (Morris 214). It is admirable that throughout the book, and especially in this final chapter, she gives a platform to the voices of her students. You can tell by their thorough and passionate responses that they learned a lot in her class.
In their writing, they speak of problems such as pay discrepancies between the WNBA and NBA, and the lack of support for female athletes who want to have children. She wraps up the book by reflecting on how grateful she was to meet the different students she taught, and how ready she is to continue to make an impact in the women’s rights movement.
Undoubtedly, Dr. Bonnie J. Morris has a tremendous knowledge and understanding of sports history, which boosts the credibility of her book, What’s the Score?. I would definitely recommend this book, especially to all athletes—no matter the age, gender, or sport. I learned so much; I felt as though I had taken her class at any of the above mentioned universities. She expanded my knowledge of women’s sports history and helped me recognize the importance of leveling the pay scale for male and female athletes. It was great to learn about my own history throughout this book, as a female athlete, and read about the grit and achievements of the women before me.
Work Cited: “Title IX and Sex Discrimination.” Home, US Department of Education (ED), 20 Aug.2021, www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/tix_dis.html
Satchel Paige Ford is a senior at Salesian College Prep in Richmond. She wrote this piece for the Prep2Prep Foundation as part of a Title IX project that will include an interview with Dr. Morris later this month. Satchel was a member of the Salesian girls basketball team that won a California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) state Division I championship this past March. Both the review and the subsequent interview are being made available to the CIF for potential use in the Gender Equity portion of its Resource Pages. The book was released on May 13 and is available wherever books are sold.