Girls and young women participate in soccer at record levels and the Women’s National Team regularly draws media, corporate, and popular attention. Yet despite increased representation and visibility, gender disparities in opportunity, compensation, training resources, and media airtime persist in soccer, and two professional leagues for women have failed since 2000.
In Kicking Center, Rachel Allison investigates a women’s soccer league seeking to break into the male-dominated center of U.S. professional sport. Through an examination of the challenges and opportunities identified by those working for and with this league, she demonstrates how gender inequality is both constructed and contested in professional sport. Allison details the complex constructions of race, class, gender, and sexuality in the selling and marketing of women’s soccer in a half-changed sports landscape characterized by both progress and backlash, and where professional sports are still understood to be men’s territory.