There is no doubt that basketball played by accomplished women
athletes is just as exciting as basketball played by accomplished
Who could watch college and professional basketball star Diana
Taurasi, for example, and not thrill to her athletic prowess?
But, as in many realms outside sports, women generally receive
less adulation than men.
One book will not do much to alter that unfortunate situation.
That said, anybody who reads "Shattering the Glass: The Remarkable
History of Women's Basketball" is quite likely to develop a more
equitable sense of appreciation.
Pamela Grundy earned a PhD at the University of North Carolina
while deciding to become a sports scholar. Susan Shackelford wrote
about sports for the Miami Herald and Charlotte Observer before
becoming a freelance journalist.
Their collaboration is successful, building on previous
scholarship, most notably that of Susan Cahn, author of the 1994
book "Coming on Strong: Gender and Sexuality in Twentieth-Century
Grundy and Shackelford have not produced a clip-and-paste job
based on the exploits of contemporary stars such as Taurasi.
Instead, they have researched a comprehensive history presented
The book opens with a section on the origins of women's
basketball, from 1892 to 1920. Next comes "Grassroots Rise and
Decline," covering the period from 1920 to 1960, in which high
school girls began playing more basketball, more black players got
into the game, national championships evolved, and the rules moved
closer to the men's version of basketball.
The book's third section narrows the focus slightly to college
basketball from 1960 to 1993, as federal laws and regulations force
universities to treat women's and men's sports more equitably, at
least on a strictly numeric basis.
The final section covers 1993 through 2004, as women's basketball
at all levels reaches "the big time" - at least, compared to the
past - partly through the influence of television.
Along with the recounting of all this history, the book is filled
with poignant individual stories that leaven its sometimes academic
The book begins, for example, with Mary Alyce Alexander shooting
baskets in the backyard of her Charlotte, N.C., family home circa
1945, thanks to the backboard and hoop put up by her father.
The backyard "became a community center, packed with eager
neighbors who played through the day and then, after Mrs. …