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No girls in football
February 14, 2013 - Kylie Saari
I was not known in high school for my athletic prowess, although I was active in my school — playing varsity soccer, color guard, winter guard and band. I liked, and still like, being physical and playing team sports.
But when I tried to get on the wrestling team in high school, I was told by the coach when I asked him that I could only be on it if I wore the same uniform as the boys — without an undershirt. I remember wanting to punch that smirk off his face.
I am thinking about it today as I read about 11-year-old Caroline Pla, a would-be football player from Philadelphia who has been keeping up with the boys on the field just fine until the Catholic Youth Organization sponsoring the teams heard about it and kicked her off.
According to news reports, Pla has been playing since she was five and her teammates and other teams had gotten over her gender and are able to play without any conflict. But football is designated a boys-only sport by the organization, which reportedly is concerned she will get hurt playing football.
I wonder if they know how many boys get hurt playing football? Pla told reporters she is angry about being thrown off the team because of her gender, a feeling I know from experience she will carry with her.
I can understand that lines need to be drawn when policies are being made, and a lot of sports have both girls and boys sections. Nationally there has been a spate of news on young girl football players, unfortunately, none live close to Pla. If there were enough girls interested in trying football, suggesting an all-girls football league would make sense, but for Pla, that would mean a lot of years of not playing while her peers developed an interest and skills to go against her. Simply stated: It isn't fair.
I know things have changed for girls sports: I remember the look my mom gave me once when I asked her what sports she played in high school. She laughed, and told me she was still required to wear a skirt to school every day. Girls hockey wasn't a sport when I was in high school, and our high school dance line was known more for its hot pants and low-cut shirts than its dancing.
I like to think gender equality discussions are a thing of the past, that women are respected equally to men and my daughter won't have to feel the humiliation I did having a teacher run his eyes over her body while mocking her. But it seems we are not quite there.
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