Why is it called “Soft”ball?

The obvious difference between a baseball and softball is the size of the ball. But why is it that the ball is called soft when that is not even close to the case? Does the ball derive it’s name from the cultural and gender politics that differentiate men and women sports?  Or is it something that came to be because of a physical aspect of the object? It just so happens that the name softball comes from the looser winding of the actual ball when being made as compared to a baseball. But given this question, it’s easy to assume that the word soft in softball comes to reflect how women sports aren’t taken as seriously as mens, and how somehow girls are less capable than men.


Source 1: Perspectives of Women College Athletes on Sport and Gender


This article is about how women who play sports at a high level view femininity and being an athlete (female/athlete paradox) as well as the issues of high performance and masculinity. The article discusses how sports are a male domain and how it’s ‘natural’ for men to participate in them. It talks about this hegemony and how this cultural idea became to be. I plan on using this article to support my claims on why it’s so easy to consider the name softball to be because of the hegemonic view of women as lesser than men.


Ross, Sally R., and Kimberly J. Shinew. “Perspectives of Women College Athletes on Sport and Gender.” n. page. Print.

(Ross, and Shinew )


Source 2: Game Ball Patent


This patent describes how a baseball and softball are made as well as describing some of the injuries one can get from being hit by the hard balls. The patent describes it’s product as a safer substitute for a baseball or softball. I plan on using this patent to show how softballs are made as well as use it to show how softballs aren’t necessarily soft.


Song, Chul-Ho . “Game ball (US 4880233 A).” google.com. Seoul Nassau Corporation. Web. 19 Feb 2014. <http://www.google.com/patents/US4880233>.



Source 3: The Girl and the Game: A History of Women’s Sports in Canada


This book is about the history of women’s sports in Canada. From the beginning informal sports all the way to the Olympics this book focuses on the sites of struggle women faced in trying to participate in sports. I’m going to use this book to support my notions of the stereotype that girl’s  sports are somehow less than men’s sports or not even considered ‘real’ sports. Using this, I will further provide evidence that supports why not only girl sports are considered ‘soft’ but softball has a connotation of being easier than baseball.


Hall, M. Ann. The Girl and the Game: A History of Women’s Sports in Canada. Toronto: Broadview Press Ltd., 2002. Print.


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1 Response to Why is it called “Soft”ball?

  1. Sarah McCullough says:

    I really like that you included the patent as one of your sources, but it is technically not a scholarly source. I would recommend finding another that can allow you to view your questions from another angle or add some complexity to your findings. The other two sources, while good, seem to just be reinforcing an idea that you came to the research with. This is a vaild point, but I’d like to see if you can push it a bit further to add some complexity, nuance, details, etc. The patent does this well and will be a great aspect of your final project. However, one more scholarly source can strengthen it as well. Additionally, can you add the full citation for the first source?

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