On Assignment

An Abridged Introduction From "Game Face"
Jane Gottesman was working in the sports department of a big-city newspaper when she got the idea for this book.

I wrote an essay called "Cover-Girl Athletes" about the fact that women athletes were invisible in the sports media until they made news as victims - or as vixens. I got the thumbs-up from some colleagues, and I got sneers from others. I got, you could say, a calling, because for the first time I asked myself, What does a female athlete look like?

Based on my own life experience, both in sports and reporting, I had a vision of the answer. In the media and in bookstores, however, I found nothing that reflected the beautiful and complicated relationship women have to sports in a world where prescribed feminine behavior does not include the muscle, sweat, and passion that are ingrained elements of sport. I circulated my question "What does a female athlete look like?" to photographers by flyers, e-mail and word of mouth.

We recorded some of those voices - from Olympians to elected officials, from coaches to corporate honchos, from schoolgirls to retirees. In these stories, which appear throughout the book, a few essential truths shine. As athletes, girls and women learn, without inhibition, the pains and joys of putting themselves on the line. As athletes, at any age, they discover the body and its gifts. Sports is a forum to gain insight into relationships with peers, family, and teachers; it is a place to discover personal and physical freedom.

"Game Face's" mission is big: to convey that athletics is a catalyst for girls' and women's self-creation, self-knowledge, and self-expression. It has a political mission as well: to reinforce the importance of Title IX by reflecting girls and women at play.

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