I used to be a tomboy; on some days I still am.
“Why aren’t you wearing your basketball clothes?” my 3-year-old son, Jason Jr., asks whenever I am nicely dressed.
In middle school, after a football coach saw me playing tackle football with a pack of boys, I was asked to try out for my school’s football team. I was thrilled, and even convinced my mother to go along with it. My mother, being as supportive as she always has been, took me to get a physical and a doctor’s opinion on whether or not I should play football.
“I think it’s fine,” the doctor said.
But two weeks after my physical, I got into a fist fight with a boy in my math class. I was suspended from school for two weeks. Immediately following that altercation, my mother changed her mind and forbade me from trying out for the team.
“I ain’t gone lie,” a boy who played for the football team said. “I was worried you were going to take my spot.”
That was 13 years ago.
But after watching YouTube sensation Sam Gordon, a 9-year-old girl who plays football for a mostly all-boys league in the Salt Lake City area, I feel like I am 13 all over again. In my heart, that 13-year-old tomboy in me is rooting for Sam. But this time, I cannot ignore the parent in me.
While the teenager in me is ready to throw on some pads and a helmet, the parent is concerned. Yes, I think it is okay for girls to play football. I love football. It is easily my favorite sport to watch and my second favorite sport to play, next to basketball. But I do not think it is okay for girls to play organized contact sports with boys.
Football is already a violent sport. And let’s face it, men and women are not made the same. This includes everything from the size of our chest area to the ability to give birth. We are different.
And so while I love the fact that a 9-year-old girl is being compared to Walter Peyton and Barry Sanders, I do think that overtime she will have to put away her cleats unless a girl’s football league is formed.
But this does at least open up the discussion, should girls football leagues be started? It’s an idea I support. And please, don’t misunderstand what I am saying; when my boys are old enough to play sports, I want them to treat girls as equals. But I could not imagine them giving a girl the Ray Lewis treatment.
Not even the tomboy in me can picture that.
Parents, how do you feel about girls playing football with boys? Also, would you support an all-girls football league?
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