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Women, Sport, and Film - Spring 2005
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Proposed Screenplay for Women sport and Film

Lauren Zimmerman

I hope through my movie to explore sports function within the social hierarchies that exist in high school. I aim to tell a typical coming of age story through the lens of high school athletics, while examining the themes of race, and the traditional concept of feminine beauty.

The setting for my movie will be a modern American high school, with special attention to a ninth grade physical education class. I am largely modeling Alemany high school on my own high school. Therefore, Alemany is a public school, and represents a gamut of different social classes. In regards to politics and religion, however, the student body is more homogeneous, consisting primarily of politically conservative Protestants. Most important to the film, sports are an integral part of Alemany high, as was the case in my high school. The film will begin with footage of the school gym, proudly bedecked with numerous banners celebrated the schools victories over the past several decades. Athletes at this school are glorified, the heroes of Alemany high. Those without athletic talent are second-class citizens.

The film will give special attention to the girl's varsity field hockey team, the Lady Wolverines. The Lady Wolverines are the most popular girls in school. Each comes from a wealthy, W.A.S.P home. Each woman succeeds in being athletic, while at the same time fulfilling the most orthodox conceptions of feminine beauty: they all have a slender build, blonde hair, a gorgeous tan, dazzling straight white teeth, and the trendiest clothes. Each Lady Wolverine is, first and foremost, a Lady; she would be seen at a game without her makeup.

Our heroine is named Suzie Rosenburg, and she is a young Jewish woman who has just moved to the school district. Like most fourteen-year-old girls, Suzie has low self-esteem. She is worried about fitting in at her new school. There are no other Jewish students at Alemany high school, and has trouble relating to her classmates.

Physical education is the most dreaded hour of Suzie's day. Already unpopular, she is always picked last for every team. Her lack of athletic talent is exhibited each class period, and is a source of constant humiliation. After class, the girls in the locker room further torment Suzie, often embarrassing her to the verge of tears.

Suzie is familiar with an old stereotype that Jews are naturally unathletic. She had never taken such clichés seriously before; after all, what did religion have to do with physical ability? Now, however, Suzie begins to wonder if her heritage is to blame for her poor performance in the gym each day. Again, being fourteen and low on self-esteem, Suzie begins to resent her heritage, which has seemed to cause her so much misery since coming to Alemany high school.

Suzie gradually grows to envy and admire the Lady Wolverines. Her jealousy is natural; they are the most popular girls in school; they have surely never faced the humiliation of being picked last during gym class. Suzie marvels at how their varsity jackets rest on their gorgeous figures, how their perfectly applied make up illuminates their tan faces, how they hold every boy in rapt attention. Suzie fantasizes about someday joining their ranks. She imagines that becoming a Lady Wolverine will surely make her one of the most attractive girls in the school, and worthy of the attention of her male classmates. Most importantly, it will enable her to achieve the sense of belonging that has been missing from her life since she started high school.

With this in mind, Suzie resolves to make the varsity field hockey team, despite her lack of natural ability, and general aversion towards athleticism. She wants to prove that Jewish girls can succeed at sports. Suzie begins going to a local gym after school. She works hard, and eventually the baby-fat that has always troubled her dissolves away. Her body is lean and muscular. Suzie invests in field hockey equipment, and begins to train one her own at home, developing her coordination. When field-hockey tryouts are held that spring, Suzie is ready. She is a far cry from the pudgy girl picked last for every team each gym class.

Suzie makes the varsity field hockey team. Her talent amazes the coach and current Lady Wolverines. Suzie is overjoyed, and imagines that she will at last fit in at Alemany high school. Tenth grade is undoubtedly an improvement from ninth. Suzie is no longer picked last during gym class. Yet, she does not really fit in among the Lady Wolverines, as she had hoped. Gradually, she begins to lose respect for them; she sees through their beautifully painted exterior. The Lady Wolverines are not just athletic and beautiful, they are also catty, and petty. In addition, the Lady Wolverines do not really embrace Suzie, but continue to view her as a marginal figure. After a great deal of self-seeking, Suzie decides to quit the varsity field hockey team towards the end of the season.

A year older and wiser, Suzie understands that she doesn't need to be a Lady Wolverine to feel good about herself. Her self-esteem has grown tremendously since the film's beginning; she has proven to herself that she does have the capacity to become strong and physically fit, despite her cultural heritage. She also realizes that she can make her own decisions, and need not let her athleticism be the soul source of happiness.

I proposed this potential screenplay because much of our discussion in Women Sport and Film was focused on the discrimination that female athletes faced. I wanted my film to deal with a setting in which female athletes were not discriminated against, but glorified. I also hope this film would illuminate that in many cases, women are only permitted to be athletic when they conform to traditional standards of feminine beauty. The heroine, Suzie Rosenburg, is meant to explore the ways in which race and cultural background relate to athleticism. She is an example of a woman who is empowered through athleticism, but comes to realize that this is only one facet of her complex personality.

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