By Susan K Cahn
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Additional resources for Coming On Strong: Gender and Sexuality in Women’s Sport
0. Seames and basketball wizard Virginia Willis. 27 Mrs. Seames was a fixture in Chicago's tennis and society circles. Having played and taught tennis since the turn of the century, "Mother" Seames managed to maintain her popularity even after her tennis talents were surpassed by those of younger 40 COMING ON STRONG champions. 28 Virginia Willis, who brought her skillful ball-handling and sharpshooting abilities to the Roamer Girls and Olivet teams, was celebrated by the black press for her ability to "do more with a basketball than a Baptist preacher can do with a chicken bone.
With the expansion of corporate capitalism, enterprising businesses realized that leisure could be commercialized on a larger scale and sold to working- and middle-class consumers in the form of recreational equipment, sportswear, and public entertainment. As the economy shifted toward mass-marketed consumer products and commercial entertainment aimed at a broadly based middle-class clientele, more 34 COMING ON STRONG and more Americans began to look for personal fulfillment through consumption and leisure.
While many scientists continued to dwell on the dangers athleticism posed to the female The New Type of Athletic Girl 29 reproductive system, some eugenicists looked to sport as a way to increase the fertility and improve the physical vigor of middleand upper-class American women. A reinvigorated motherhood would allow the "fittest" race to expunge weaker strains and take its natural place atop the social order. Under the banner of eugenics, physical educators negotiated the tension between fit motherhood and masculine athleticism.