I read an article this morning and, while I know I tend to focus on Georgia Football, I felt the need to speak on this—as both a woman and a mother—but I want you all to look at the following video first:
If you are not sure from the footage which player is the girl, and which is the boy, the girl is the one who laid the hit that dropped her opponent to the ground. Her name is Haley Abeyta and she plays Junior Varsity Football for Bear Creek High School (Classification 5-A) in Lakewood, CO—she currently weighs in at 5’7, 166, and is dead serious about playing linebacker at the college level a couple of years.
If you want to read more about Abeyta, I recommend the following link, but I wanted to share my thoughts on this: I’m skeptical.
See, I grew up in South Georgia (Savannah, GA to be exact), and where I come from, girls don’t play football (unless it’s of the Powder Puff or Flag variety). They might date a football player, watch football game, or throw a football around with a family member here or there, but they do not play—it’s not even a consideration.The reason is simple: football is still very much a “man’s game” where the on-field play is concerned. It always has been and the vast majority don’t take issue with that being the case.
It is what it is.
Now, I’m sure this is going to sound sexist and narrow-minded to a lot of my strongly feminist friends, but all I think of when I see a girl on the football field is my own daughter. Would I want her out there getting her body bashed to bits? No, I would not. What purpose would that serve? What end-game would that promote? Sure, the message is, and should always be, “girls can do anything boys can do”, but shouldn’t common sense also come into play at some level? Aren’t there some things we simply shouldn’t want our little girls to do?
Of course, there are examples of women who have found successful careers in male-dominated arenas—boxing, UFC, Lacrosse, Rugby, etc.—but those advancements haven’t led to mixed leagues, but have opened doors for the development of a league where women can compete with each other.
And while I believe Lailah Ali could have knocked out some of her male counterparts, Ronda Rousey likely could beat a guy into submission, and Ashley Force makes a strong case for female drivers, none of that means a thing when you’re talking about placing a 16-year old girl on the gridiron.
Let me put this into a bit more perspective: One of Georgia’s top recruits for 2016 is Ben Cleveland—a 16-year old, 6’7, 325 pound, left tackle. Did I mention Abeyta is 5’7, 166?
You do the math.
On the flip side, I’m not a complete dolt. I understand and love change can occur at any time. Sometimes all you need is one game-changer to make the world take notice and rethink its assumptions—after all, I recognize the irony some still find in the fact that I exist as a “Lady” Sportswriter, despite the presence of female sports bloggers, journalists, and reporters all across the world.
Perhaps Abeyta will become a pioneer for girls wanting to do more than cheer from the sidelines. Maybe she’ll change my mind about what should and should not be acceptable.
For the moment, though, I remain skeptical and, just being honest, you won’t be seeing me signing my girl up for Pee Wee League Football anytime soon—just sayin.