Hail Mary: The Rise and Fall of the National Women’s Football League

Bold Type. Nov. 2021. 304p. ISBN 9781645036623. $28. SPORTS
An intriguing history of the 1974–88 National Women’s Football League (NWFL) by journalists de la Cretaz and D’Arcangelo, both of whom primarily write about the intersection of sports and gender. Drawing from extensive research, including interviews with former NWFL players, the authors cover the history of women’s football, beginning with the first recorded instance of women playing football in 1896. The NWFL was established in 1974, with its heyday in the 1970s—its first local televised game took place in August 1975. As the authors tell, the downfall of the NWFL was the result of a lack of funds, little media and fan support, and poor organization. During its peak years, leading players emerged including Marcella Sanborn, Linda Jefferson, Susan Hoxie, Rose Low, and Jan Hines. In interviews with de la Cretaz and D’Arcangelo, some of these players recalled the major impact the NWFL had on their lives; the book also contends that the NWFL helped to pave the way for women who now work as coaches in the NFL. The book includes an extensive bibliography and listing of NWFL teams.
VERDICT This is a noteworthy study of a nearly forgotten football league; especially recommended for football fans and those interested in women’s studies.
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