What: "Dare to Compete: The Struggle of Women in Sports"
When: Tonight, 10-11:30
This is Women's History Month, and HBO is to be congratulated for tackling such a large and complex topic as the history of women in sports, dating to the Victorian Age. That was a time when women were limited to "ladylike" sports such as tennis and croquet because it was believed that physical exertion could damage reproductive capacities.
This film has the quality production HBO is known for, but the problem is there is simply too much ground to cover for one documentary. As with a recent all-encompassing documentary on golf that appeared on PBS stations, your brain will be left on information overload after watching "Dare to Compete."
Possibly what both shows needed was Olympic documentarian Bud Greenspan's winning formula--concentrate on a handful of stories, and tell them completely. Babe Didrikson, for example, is a fabulous story, one that could have been more in-depth.
Still, what senior producer Kendall Gill, co-producer Julie Anderson and the rest of the HBO crew were able to accomplish, considering the format, is admirable. Some of the events, such as the Billie Jean King-Bobby Riggs tennis match in 1973, has been shown many times before, but other footage hasn't.
King, Donna de Varona and Mary Carillo served as consultants on the film that shows how each generation paved the way for future women athletes to close the gender gap. The narrator is Lauren Hutton, and, in a coup, HBO got Hillary Rodham Clinton to do the introduction.