Muscle Molls

One Woman's View from the Concession Stand

Jody DiPerna

Jody DiPerna
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania,
April 06
A proud rust-belt resident and free-lancer who writes predominantly about sports. I spent an entire year following around a barn-storming women’s football team, have survived more nights on the sidelines of high school football fields than I would care to admit, and conducted one of my finest interviews in a laundromat. I have written for print and on-line outlets such as Table Magazine, Pgh. Quarterly Magazine, Pgh. City Paper, Pgh. Tribune Review, Pgh. City Paper, the Washington Informer, Thought Catalog and True/Slant. I am nearly finished with my book about the Pittsburgh Passion women’s football team, "Rough & Tumble: Pioneer Women in the World of Female Full-Contact Football.”

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SEPTEMBER 30, 2011 1:37PM

Muscle Molls, a Meditation

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Sports are encoded on my genetic fabric. They were imprinted on my psyche from a young age. I cannot ever imagine a day when I don’t watch the Stanley Cup playoffs without great interest or get as geeked up about the start of the NFL season as little kids do in anticipation of Christmas. So I write about sports because I have little choice in the matter. That said, the older I get, the less I’m interested in the big money corporatized sports and the more I am drawn to writing about (and reading about) outsider sports -- the games and players who work on the edges, are unknown, and play and train in the nooks and crannies.

I believe that sports are and can be a major engine for change. If not directly, then because the participants and supporters are transformed, emboldened, given agency in this one little aspect of their lives. That empowerment can spill over into other areas. There are powerful stories of women in Saudi Arabia taking up soccer, Iraqi women learning to play Australian Rules Football, Honduran immigrants in California playing in community futbol leagues.

That’s good stuff, no matter how you feel about sports.

And that’s why Muscle Molls is here.

It is here for readers who feel conflicted about buying into and perpetuating the overblown media hype and ridiculous hero-worship that feeds the giant corporate machines that are the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and NCAA football. It’s for viewers who, like me, are less interested in the 2011 NFL than the league’s hardscrabble, sandlot beginnings. For fans who are more interested in the stories of the Negro Leagues than MLB teams which charge more than two-grand for home plate tickets. For readers who are interested in stories of women coaching high school football, and the trailblazers who came before them, women like Althea Gibson, Wilma Rudolph and Babe Didrikson.

The focus here will be outsider sports and women's sports -- any and all -- from Division I college hoops to sandlot soccer teams. I’m interested in finding those stories and also telling the lost or hidden histories in sports.

Who plays?

Why do they play?

At what cost?

What effect does it have on them? On their community?

Even many decades after Title IX, women's sports are tremendously under-funded and when they are well-funded (like UConn or Tennessee women’s basketball programs), they're still a tough sell. High schools facing budget cuts are adopting ‘pay to participate’ policies for sports programs. How does that impact on already under-served communities?


The title itself is an homage to the great Babe Didrikson (later Babe Didrikson Zaharias) who was scornfully dubbed a “muscle moll” by writer Paul Gallico in a 1932 Vanity Fair article. Perhaps the greatest all-sport athlete of all time irrespective of gender, Gallico (and many others) dismissed Babe’s accomplishments because she was too muscled, in their estimation. Or rather, they dismissed her, because she was too muscled. Whatever that means.

That’s the mission and focus of Muscle Molls. Feel free to pass on any story tips, ideas or leads.

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