Real-Life Football Story Marries "Quarterback Princess" with "Necessary Roughness"

Women playing major league football may be a few years off yet. However, since the advent of semi-pro full-tackle women’s leagues, including the Chicago Force, I’m not convinced it will be never. Don’t get me started on ANOTHER women’s full-tackle football league. Most people will know who I mean, but I took a vow not to print their name. Let’s just say that they will never, never, never play football in the NFL. Or Arena Football, for that matter. Try the semi-pro leagues for REAL women playing football.

But since 1983, they could sure play high school and college ball in the movies. In 1983, when eventual Academy Award winner Helen Hunt wss a teenager, she starred in a then-controversial TV movie. It was titled “Quarterback Princess.” Remember this one?  She was the new,cute girl in town who not only had killer looks…she also had a killer passing game and could take a hit with the best of the boys in her rural high school. She shows it first at tryouts when she’s spiked in the chest, is down for the count, then grits her teeth and gives it all for the Gipper. She’s good, but of course, no one wants her. The intrepid, traditional high school coach  tries to get her to go out for another sport, or just…leave.  Her ever-supportive family encourages her to just prove the naysayers wrong, while her parents (Barbara Babcock and Don Murray)  deal with the neighbors and God forbid, the PTA. Mom gets sideswiped at the grocery store by two PTA members and ends up telling them to *&^% off. Hunt even finds a semi-supportive boyfriend, taking him to task on the first date, when he took her to  swing from trees (literally) instead of to the movies and dinner. Hey, she plays football. But she still likes feminine things. And she likes being treated like a girl on a date. I get that.

True to the made-for-TV movie genre, they have to let her try…damn that Title IX!  But she’s good. And when they start winning with her at starting QB, they begin to accept her. Slowly, the town starts turning.  Hunt wins it all. After the game, Hunt doffs her cleats and shoulderpads, puts on a slithery floor-length dress,  goes to the dance and bathed in soft light, the students crown their quarterback homecoming queen. She weeps as the entire team gathers around her.  

“Quarterback Princess” gave way to the 1991 film “Necessary Roughness,” a movie about a ragtag college team, starring supermodel and Sports Illustrated cover girl Kathy Ireland  as Lucy, as a soccer player turned kicker.The team is so poor, and so in need of a kicker, they’ll take her. Really. There are a few minor protests about shower arrangements. But then,  Sinbad, who plays the swarthy, barrel-chested defensive lineman on the Texas State Armadillos, acts as her bodyguard, turning into a human shower curtain and towel rack combined. And you don’t mess with a defensive lineman. To do so would be to Sin. Bad.  In her first game she brings the team to life with a field goal that ties the game.

Life, at long last, imitated art the first Saturday in October. It was Homecoming Weekend throughout the United States, including Pinckney, Michigan. These two nearly-forgotten movies came together in the story of  17 year old Michigan soccer star Brianna Amat, who is also is the varsity kicker for the Pinckney High School  football team.  She kicked a career- best 31-yard field goal to clinch a 9-7 victory for Pinckney High School, defeating the 7th-ranked Grand Blanc High School.  During halftime, the clearly popular senior was crowned homecoming queen, and walked out on the field, resplendent in shou.lder pads, cleats, team jersey…and a sparkly tiara.

Reports from Fox News say that Amat plans to attend Western Michigan University next fall, and major in business advertising. She might also think about trying out for their football team. She certainly has been able to compete at the high school level. Why not travel the road as far as it can take her? Or, she could capitalize on the national publicity by trying her hand at “Dancing with the Stars.”  If US soccer phenomenon Hope Solo could do it, why couldn’t Amat? That said,  I will caution Amat to think twice about Solo’s next publicity move: appearing in ESPN the Magazine’s annual “Body” issue. As a business advertising major, she will understand that image is everything to businesses. And she doesn’t want to appear in my semi-annual “Nakey Athletes” stories. 

I’ve included a link to the original New York Times story. Let me know what you think about female kickers on a boys football team. And do you know of any athletes in the Chicago area who have done the same?

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