Football Sensation Causes Safety Debate...Because She's a Girl

Family Matters on 11.08.12
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A 9-year-old Utah girl is making a big splash in her local tackle football league. Sam Gordon started playing football because she was fast-- so fast that her older brother and his teammates couldn’t catch her at all, as is evidenced by the 25 touchdowns she scored in the 2012 season. And if you watch the video, you’ll see that this girl has got some serious moves on the field. In between touchdowns, she registered 65 tackles. But in a recent article and overt example of sexism, Yahoo! Sports blogger Eric Adelson questions whether or not it’s appropriate for this girl who weighs less than 60 pounds to be playing against bigger, stronger boys.

Sam may be small, but she is certainly not drastically smaller than a lot of the other kids on the field. I am not a big fan of football. I think any sport where the point of the game is for the players to slam into each other on every single play is a bit too dangerous. I’ve debated over and over whether or not to let my son play, and as luck would have it, he’s actually too big to play for his current age group so I don’t have to make the decision right now. But if I do decide to let my son play and my daughter wants to play as well, then I have to let her play too because I have every intention of teaching my daughter that there is nothing she can’t do just because she is a girl (you know, other than get equal pay for equal work).

The bottom line is that if Sam were a boy with the same stats, nobody would be debating whether or not it’s safe for her to play. Everybody would be talking about what a superstar she’s going to be, what football camps she can get into, and where to set her sights on for college. But despite the fact that Sam is probably going to be a better football player and faster runner than her brother her entire life, and despite the fact that she is enjoying playing the game, there will always be this debate surrounding her simply because she’s a girl. You can debate whether or not football is safe all day long, but debating whether a girl should be able to play it like the boys is only supporting the idea that males are superior.

I anticipate that people will have high expectations for my son in sports because he is much bigger than other kids his age, but there is little doubt in my mind that it will be my daughter who is the one who is playing harder and rougher in whatever sports she chooses. The decision about safety in sports needs to be determined based on the kid’s abilities and not their gender.

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