Latino Studies Latinas and Soccer: An Understudied Population
Juan Javier Pescador
  • LAST REVIEWED: 28 October 2020
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 October 2020
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199913701-0148


The history of the participation of Latinas in sports, leisure and recreational activities has been neglected by both historians of American women and researchers on the history of Latinas/os in the United States. The contribution of Latinas to soccer organizations, soccer leagues, soccer fields and soccer teams is a vastly unexplored territory mainly because of the resistance of historians of American women to incorporate Latinas in the national narrative and the negligence of Latino researchers in recognizing the presence and role of Latinas in the world of sports and recreation in the United States. This double inattention is not only rooted in the nativist shaping of the perspectives on the studies of American women and soccer, but also in the prevalent views inside Latino families, and sometimes Latino scholars, that soccer is a sport for men and, along with boxing, baseball and other sports, is a unique venue to display and assert Latino masculinity.

Latinas and Organized Physical Activity

According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services 2009 report Hispanic/Latinas are more likely than other groups to exercise or engage in leisure-physical activity and only 5% reported meeting the official standards of adequate levels of physical activity. Abraído-Lanza, et al. 2005 and D’Alonzo and Fischetti 2008 provide a comparative analysis on healthy behaviors and cultural attitudes in Latinas and non-Latinas, and Latinas and African American women respectively. D’Alonzo and Sharma 2010 studies patriarchal norms intersecting with Latinas’ lack of participation in physical activities. Keller and Fleury 2006 overviews the individual, social and cultural factors on the subject. Márquez and MacAuley 2006 and Hubert, et al. 2005 discuss the connections between acculturation and obesity amongst Latina migrant workers and Hispanic women. Slattery, et al. 2006 examines patterns of physical activity and obesity for Latinas and non-Latinas. O’Connor, et al. 2014 analyzes social and cultural factors shaping physical activity patterns among Latinx parents in the Houston area. Finally Unger, et al. 2004 compares attitudes and values regarding physical activity and food consumption for Latinas and Asian American women.

  • Abraído-Lanza, A. F., M. T. Chao, K. Flórez. “Do Healthy Behaviors Decline with Greater Acculturation? Implications for the Latino Mortality Paradox.” Social Science & Medicine 61 (2005): 1243–1255.

    Study focuses on the differences between Latino and white non-Latino populations in regard to healthy behaviors. Although Latinos, relative to non-Latino whites, were less likely to smoke and drink alcohol, all things being equal, they were also less likely to engage in any exercise activity and were more likely to have a high Body Mass Index.

  • D’Alonzo, K. T., and N. Fischetti. “Cultural Beliefs and Attitudes of Black and Hispanic College-Age Women toward Exercise.” Journal of Transcultural Nursing 19 (2008): 175–183.

    Comparative study for college-age African American and Latina women and their envisioning of exercise. According to the study, Latina women tend to view exercise from a more negative perspective and regard it as “unfeminine”, whereas black women appreciate some aspects of physical activity but feel “pressure to conform to the white standards of beauty.”

  • D’Alonzo, K. T., and M. Sharma. “The Influence of Marianismo Beliefs on Physical Activity of Mid-Life Immigrant Latinas: A Photovoice Study.” Qualitative Research in Sport and Exercise 2 (2010): 229–249.

    Study explores the influence of religious/gender norms from patriarchal “marianismo” on the regular participation of middle age immigrant Latina women in organized physical activities. “Marianismo” refers to a traditional perspective of femininity in Latin American communities that emphasizes modesty, premarital virginity, maternity, and subservience to husband and father as ideals for self-realization.

  • Hubert, H. B., J. Snider, and M. A. Winkleby. “Health Status, Health Behaviors, and Acculturation Factors Associated with Overweight and Obesity in Latinos from a Community and Agricultural Labor Camp Survey.” Preventive Medicine 40 (2005): 642–651.

    Study finds a correlation between acculturation (years lived in the United States, generational status) and obesity among Latino population in agricultural labor camps. The trend seems to be stronger among women.

  • Keller, C., and J. Fleury. “Factors Related to Physical Activity in Hispanic Women.” Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing 21 (2006):142–145.

    Study focuses on the individual, social and cultural influences that account for the substantial underrepresentation of Hispanic women in physical activities. Self-image, lack of encouragement, women’s role expectations, lack of time, financial obstacles, family obligations and lack of social support are amongst the factors that prevent participation in exercise, organized physical activities and sports.

  • Márquez, D. X., and E. McAuley. “Gender and Acculturation Influences on Physical Activity in Latino Adults.” Annals of Behavioral Medicine 31 (2006):138–144.

    Research analyzes Leisure Time Physical Activity (LTPA) amongst Latino men and Latina women, identifying considerable gender differences in recreational, occupational and household physical activity in favor of Latino men.

  • O’Connor, Teresia M., and Cerin Ester, et al. “Environmental and Cultural Correlates of Physical Activity Parenting Practices among Latino Parents with Preschool-Aged Children: Niños Activos.” IBMC Public Health 14 (2014): Article No. 707.

    Article studies the contributions of sociodemographic, cultural and parenting factors in the prevalence and prevention of obesity among Latina and Latino children. Based on preschoolers in Harris County (Houston) Texas, the study identifies the need to address these factors in order to effectively promote physical activity and prevent obesity in these communities.

  • Slattery, M. L., C. Sweeney, S. Edwards, J. Herrick, M. Murtaugh, K. Baumgartner, and T. Byers. “Physical Activity Patterns and Obesity in Hispanic and Non-Hispanic White Women.” Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 38 (2006): 33–41.

    The article focuses on the negative correlation between physical activity and the risk of obesity among Hispanic women, highlighting the considerable gap between Hispanic and Non-Hispanic White women.

  • Unger, J. B., K. Reynolds, S. Shakib, D. Spruijt-Metz, P. Sun, C. A. Johnson. “Acculturation, Physical Activity, and Fast-Food Consumption among Asian-American and Hispanic Adolescents.” Journal of Community Health 29 (2004): 467.

    Study analyzes the connections between acculturation, physical activity, obesity-related behavior and fast food practices among Asian American and Latino teenagers in Southern California.

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