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

Dreamscape Audio. Dec. 2021. 9:37 hrs. ISBN 9781666535075. $24.99. SPORTS
Sportswriters de la Cretaz and D’Arcangelo present a fascinating, well-researched history of the 1974–88 U.S. National Women’s Football League (NWFL), which fielded nearly 20 teams—though never more than 11 at one time. The rules of the game were finalized in the 1880s, and the first recorded women’s football scrimmage occurred on November 21, 1896, in Harlem. NWFL athletes faced pushback, even after the 1972 passage of Title IX paved the way for greater participation of women in sports. NWFL players, a group of all marital statuses and sexual orientations, were also college students, mothers, and factory and office workers, who juggled their professions and family to play the game they loved—often for no or very little pay. Narrator Kimberly Austin perfectly varies her tone and energy throughout the shifts between historical background, player interviews, play-by-play game action, and media coverage. Austin’s excellent pacing keeps the narrative rolling along through the wealth of details included about the teams, players, and their obstacles.
VERDICT This engaging account of an extremely important era in women’s sports history should be enjoyed by enthusiasts of social history and sports fans.
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