Girls fight for right to play football

The NFL play offs are in full swing, and as the pro teams battle to get to the Super Bowl, tween girls waging their own fight to get on the gridiron. Nine year-old Sam Gordon is featured on the Wheaties box and appeared on Sports Center yesterday. Girls are rejecting the notion that tackle football is a sport just for boys and are blazing a path to the end zone, but some are facing more obstacles than others.

Sam Gordon played on her youth football team in Utah this year and was the only girl. Actually, she didn’t play, she dominated. She ran for 1,911 yards and had 35 touchdowns this season. And that’s jut on offense. She plays defense as well.  On Jan. 8, 2012, she told Hannah Storm on Sports Center said that she enjoys scoring on the boys and that they say, “Dang it, I just got beat by a girl!” Sam also said, “”I don’t think they tease me at all. I think sometimes they might get a little embarrassed, though.”

She is the first female football player to be featured on a Wheaties box. That’s not all. Sam will attend the Super Bowl at the invitation of NFL commission Roger Godell.

Across the country, 11 year-old Caroline Pla plays offensive guard on the youth tackle football team in Pennsylvania and was selected for the all-star team at the end of the 2012 season. “At first, everybody was like ‘Whoa, there’s a girl,’ but then they accepted me,” Caroline told ABC station WPVI in Philadelphia.

Her stellar play and the acceptance of her teammates, however, were not enough to ensure a return to the team next year. She plays on the Junior Varsity Catholic Youth Organization (“CYO”) team, which is a part of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. During the 2012 season, the Archdiocese notified Caroline’s family of a rule that girls cannot play on the boys football team. They agreed to let her finish the season, and her parents gave her the bad news once the season had ended.

Sam was quick to offer her support to Caroline. Caroline’s dad started a petition on entitled “Archdiocese of Philadelphia CYO Office: Stop Discrimination – Change the CYO Football Rule – Allow Girls to Play.” Sam Gordon signed the petition, writing, ” I am a nine year old girl and play tackle football with boys. I play football because it is fun and it is good exercise. I was the smallest player in the league and did not get hurt even though I played almost every down. Caroline should be allowed to play.”  One of her teammate wrote, “”I played with Caroline this year, and she is AMAZING! Let her keep doing what she loves.”

The Archdiocese explained in a statement to ABC News, “”CYO football is a full-contact sport designated for boys,” archdiocese spokesman Ken Gavin wrote in a statement to ABC News. “There has been some perceived ambiguity in the policy regarding this point. It is currently being reviewed and will be addressed moving forward to provide complete clarity.” The Pla family hopes that the review of the policy will result in a change of heart and that Caroline will be able to play football next season.

What do you think?

See Sam’s highlight video here.

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