While most aspects of the entire body of sport science knowledge are founded on principles applicable to all athletes, specialized issues arise from considerations of both age and gender. Male athletes, female athletes, and young athletes all face unique training and performance issues. Male athletes have been dominant on a global basis in almost every sporting activity, in terms of their far greater number of participants, the well-entrenched traditions associated with many forms of male sport, as well as the demanding physical nature of many sports. For these reasons, a great number of athletic issues have been viewed from an entirely male perspective.
Beginning with the ancient Olympics, competitive sport has been an overwhelmingly male-dominated arena. Female sports did not exist in any organized or formal fashion until the twentieth century; the 1928 Olympics represented the first wide-scale international women's track and field competition. Women's baseball teams attracted a certain level of notoriety in the United States in the 1930s and 1940s, but these leagues were viewed by the public as something of a novelty, as opposed to a serious athletic endeavor.
Even when female athletes achieved a measure of achievement, so long as there has existed a male alternative in a sport, those male athletes have been accorded greater fame and financial reward than their female counterparts. Notwithstanding the physiological differences between men and women that fundamentally affect performance, the male athlete is perceived as the better athlete. A portion of the global sporting public is unable or unwilling to distinguish between female athletic ability, which encompasses all of the physical factors that combine to
The domination of the male athlete and male team sports prompted a number of government initiatives throughout the world, aimed at not so much a redress of the perceived inequality in the acceptance of female athletes as the competitive equals of men, but to increase the status of female athletics. The legislative initiatives taken in a number of counties such as the United States to enforce equality across the entire athletic spectrum have not changed perceptions so much as they appear to have altered the actual degree of female participation in a number of sports, particularly at the American university level. Title IX is the generic name given to the American female sports initiative, which provides for an equal funding formula in the financial support provided to sports in U.S. universities.
An unforeseen consequence of Title IX was the elimination of a number of male sport programs in the American university system governed by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Male sports such as wrestling were eliminated at over 100 American universities, to achieve the balance required by Title IX. Government initiatives cannot alter the significant differences in the approaches that male athletes versus female athletes take with respect to almost every sport. These differences include:
As male and female athletes grow from adolescence into physical maturity, the physical drills and training programs must be modified to suit the physical differences that exist between male and female athletes. The key differences between male and female physical capabilities include: