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Sweet Feet
November 7, 2012 7:59 PM   Subscribe

Internet sensation: Nine-year-old girl shredding defenses to the tune of 25 touchdowns Sam Gordon just wanted to run with the older kids. The coaches in the local tackle football league figured, hey, why not? Maybe they could turn it into a drill: Who can outrun Max's little sister? They were shocked to find the answer: no one. "Some kids, right before the contact, they stop," Sam told her father. "I don't. I just hit 'em."
posted by Golden Eternity (119 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
Whoa, whoa, whoa... the guy named his kids Sam and Max?! AWESOME.

And awesome for Sam. Looks like she's enjoying herself.
posted by raihan_ at 8:09 PM on November 7, 2012 [20 favorites]


That was awesome! Thanks for the post.
posted by klausman at 8:11 PM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


You know, I'm all for gender equality (and girls kicking boys' butts in any sport), but why is there even such a thing as tackle football for 8-10 year olds??
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 8:12 PM on November 7, 2012 [62 favorites]


A quote from the article:
"She could really handle a lot of the physical play. … She would get kicked in the face, kicked in the gut and just keep going."
Yes! That's some good, old-fashioned… um… it builds… one important value is… hmm.
posted by Nomyte at 8:12 PM on November 7, 2012 [33 favorites]


You got your brutal and dangerous sport in my inspiring story of gender equity in young kids. This isn't going to work.
posted by gerryblog at 8:12 PM on November 7, 2012 [24 favorites]


I'd like to watch Marshawn Lynch break down her running. "Just a lil baby stiffarm."
posted by The Hamms Bear at 8:19 PM on November 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


I say this as a life long football fan:
Good for her, for now, but if she starts to pin her hopes and dreams on this, she's going to get murdered when everyone hits puberty. Rudy was essentially a work of fiction. I hope her parents get her out of that situation before she gets horribly disappointed/wounded/sexually harassed.
posted by Optamystic at 8:26 PM on November 7, 2012 [8 favorites]


I say this as a life long football fan:
Good for her, for now, but if she starts to pin her hopes and dreams on this, she's going to get murdered when everyone hits puberty. Rudy was essentially a work of fiction. I hope her parents get her out of that situation before she gets horribly disappointed/wounded/sexually harassed.
As my nine year old daughter would say.
"bollocks"
posted by fullerine at 8:31 PM on November 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


Yeah, sorry, I'm really glad that there's a girl breaking gender barriers, but football is a bad sport for kids. Hell, it's bad for adults. Football is dangerous in a way that other sports are not. While I would love for Sam (and other girls (and boys)) to continue to break gender barriers, this isn't the one.
posted by nushustu at 8:31 PM on November 7, 2012 [8 favorites]


Who is faster than Sam? None. None more fast.

She also changes direction on a dime.
posted by exlotuseater at 8:31 PM on November 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


It was all fun and games (she runs like a maniac) until the bit where she started getting flattened.

The whole 'rub some dirt on it and shake it off' thing has to go away and die in a corner.
posted by unSane at 8:33 PM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


i dont know if this isnt faked up a little bit. Some of the footage is sped up obviously but the torso doesnt match the body. Remember the meta post of the guy flying his homemade wings across the park? turned out to be viral ad for a camera.

As for the question about youth football Ive coached my sons at that age and its really not dangerous. Kids really have just enough athletic ability to run and grab or at most arm tackle a kid to the ground. I dont want my sons playing on into the 7th grade though. The game gets too jarring at that level.
posted by Colonel Panic at 8:34 PM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm no expert in little kid football but watching the clip it seems about as dangerous as learning a martial art. It doesn't get really dangerous until people start using their helmets as clubs.

Well, if she ever makes it to the NFL she should probably cut her hair. Hair pulling is legal there.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:34 PM on November 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I was laughing my ass off at the way she just avoided people trying to tackle her -- she apparently loses no forward momentum making a 45-degree direction change.

Like others, I'm kind of mixed on this, having two thoughts at once. One is, "Young girl excels in a sport dominated by boys, and vastly outplays even ones much older".

The other is, "Girl excels at headbrick."
posted by Malor at 8:37 PM on November 7, 2012 [21 favorites]


Staib doesn't hesitate when asked about the hitting. He says Sam loves to tackle and even goes after Tank whenever she gets the chance. He's not worried. Brent says only once did Sam get shaken up from a hit. She came out of the game, rested for a few plays, then returned to score a touchdown.

We do seem to be in headbrick territory.
posted by sebastienbailard at 8:42 PM on November 7, 2012


I dunno about the whole outcry that she'll get disappointed in later years.

I knew several girls who played middle and HS football.

But then again I live in Texas, some things are more common here than in other states.

Like cows.
posted by Malice at 8:52 PM on November 7, 2012 [7 favorites]


A quote from the article:

"She could really handle a lot of the physical play. … She would get kicked in the face, kicked in the gut and just keep going."

Yes! That's some good, old-fashioned… um… it builds… one important value is… hmm
.

I used to play recess soccer with the boys. I've received a ball in the face while attempting prevent a goal shot and still have a lump on my ankle from that era. It builds something intangible, regardless of whether she ends up doing sports in school properly or simply fooling around like me.

/speaking from 35 years later
posted by infini at 9:01 PM on November 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


As my nine year old daughter would say.
"bollocks"


As I would say to my nine year old son: I'll let you advise me on the wisdom of subjecting a child to repeated head trauma when you finish medical school.
posted by The World Famous at 9:07 PM on November 7, 2012 [47 favorites]


(Now give me your beer and strap yourself into this rocket-powered soapbox derby car.)
posted by The World Famous at 9:10 PM on November 7, 2012 [18 favorites]


Get that girl some skates...or, because I'm Canadian, maybe don't.
posted by qinn at 9:14 PM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Remember the meta post of the guy flying his homemade wings across the park? turned out to be viral ad for a camera.

You may think so but that was actually a viral ad for AWESOME.
posted by laconic skeuomorph at 9:18 PM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Who is faster than Sam? None. None more fast.

It's a totally cute video, and totally cute story - except for the whole "hrmm" contact sports aspect - but the video is clearly, undeniably, sped up in more than one part. This is absolutely not taking away for her awesomeness.
posted by smoke at 9:25 PM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Jesus fucking Christ.

1) this shit isn't fake you fucking
Jim Garrisons give it a rest
2) 8 year olds are not strong enough to concuss each other, chill
3) there is no 3
posted by nathancaswell at 9:32 PM on November 7, 2012 [9 favorites]


she put the team on her back do
posted by stifford at 9:33 PM on November 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


I was a free range kid growing up, and we'd periodically have impromptu football mixes sex football games. Us small girls could really hustle, the only person faster was a tiny guy. All of us went home with bruises and cuts (and grass stains galore.) It was during that sweet spot where kids could still be kids but gender equality was starting to be a thing, so boys and girls played rough and tumble games. Or maybe my neighborhood was just weird, but what girls lacked in strength they made up for in tenacity. So this doesn't seem too weird to me. Also, YOU GO, SWEET FEET!
posted by [insert clever name here] at 9:42 PM on November 7, 2012 [14 favorites]


I see her in futures trading or helping invalids.
posted by casual observer at 9:42 PM on November 7, 2012


i played tackle ball with the boys in grade school. it was fucking awesome. i was just as tall, if not taller than them, so there wasn't a physical disparity. i loved the physical play of running as fast as you could and slamming into someone (a sensation i later found in mosh pits, if that helps put it in context for the anti-sports crowd). it sadly came to a halt because i had my boobs first and the other girls were interested in holding hands with the boys (ick) and didn't want to be left out, so tackle ball slowly became touch only, and then suddenly the teams were uneven and i had to go back to reading books and being ignored. it was some of the most fun i had in school while it lasted though.
posted by nadawi at 9:43 PM on November 7, 2012 [15 favorites]


peewee football is not particularly dangerous. No where near as dangerous as the shit I did as a kid (skateboarding with zero protection all day every day, burning things, pissing off other people's dogs, eating McDonald's...)

In fact:

the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission examined athletic injuries on a sport-by-sport basis. It found that organized football among 5-to-15-year-olds had 12 per- cent fewer injuries per capita than organized soccer for the same age group. Football also had 50 percent fewer injuries than bike riding and 74 percent fewer than skateboarding.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 9:44 PM on November 7, 2012 [18 favorites]


I love this video. She's awesome.
posted by Joey Michaels at 9:46 PM on November 7, 2012


"Some boys taught me to play football. This was a fine sport. You thought up a new strategy for every play and whispered it to the others. You went out for a pass, fooling everyone. Best, you got to throw yourself mightily into someone's running legs. Either you brought him down or you hit the ground flat out on your chin, with your arms empty before you. It was all or nothing. If you hesitated in fear, you would miss and get hurt: you would take a hard fall while the kid got away, or you would get kicked int he face while the kid got away. But if you flung yourself wholeheartedly at the back of his knees--if you gathered and joined body and soul and pointed them diving fearlessly--then you likely wouldn't get hurt, and you'd stop the ball. Your fate, and your team's score, depended on your concentration and courage. Nothing girls did could compare with it." - Annie Dillard, "The Chase"
posted by Joseph Gurl at 9:47 PM on November 7, 2012 [9 favorites]


Concerns about contact sports aside, this video is pure joy. Go Sam!

I used to play recess soccer with the boys. I've received a ball in the face while attempting prevent a goal shot and still have a lump on my ankle from that era. It builds something intangible, regardless of whether she ends up doing sports in school properly or simply fooling around like me.

I play co-ed floor hockey as a forward. I've got lumps and scars from scrapping in corners, giant bruises from being hit by slapshots. There is nothing like being taught your whole life that because you're a woman, you need to hide behind and be protected by men*--and then learning that you will barely blink when your exposed skin is hit with a 90mph rubber ball. After that, it's hard to continue believing that you really need all the protection being pushed upon you.

The vast gulf between men and women that I once perceived to exist vanished after I started playing. Sure, the physical difference is still mostly there so I don't go about being overly cocky--but I also don't go about telling myself I can't do this or that because I'm a woman. Now it's more like "Huh, wonder if I could do that? Turns out I can deal with playing hockey**, so what else can I do?"

It's one of the most empowering lessons I have ever had. Regardless of what happens to Sam's career in football, I hope she takes the lessons of this experience and goes as far as her heart desires.

*Quirk of the culture I grew up in.
** Yes I know this is not "real" hockey.

posted by rhythm and booze at 10:02 PM on November 7, 2012 [8 favorites]


Previously.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:05 PM on November 7, 2012


I know this is not "real" hockey.

I grew up in NH watching not one but two girls playing "real" hockey. One was Tara Mounsey, who was the captain of our state championship winning high school team and voted player of the year in NH (to put this in perspective, high school hockey in my home town was a bigger deal than high school football). The second was Katie King, who played youth hockey but whose high school didn't have a hockey team. Both went on to win Olympic gold medals.
posted by nathancaswell at 10:18 PM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


It was all fun and games (she runs like a maniac) until the bit where she started getting flattened.

You mean where she does the flattening? She plays defense as well. Those were her tackles. Which is sort of frightening as well.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 10:19 PM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think I'd be way more into football if it was limited to under 10-year-olds. Period. Past that, I think folks would be better off focusing on badminton, or perhaps croquet.
posted by philip-random at 10:22 PM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


nathancaswell: "8 year olds are not strong enough to concuss each other, chill"

Are you kidding me? 8 year olds are plenty strong to concuss themselves let alone others...
posted by HFSH at 10:31 PM on November 7, 2012 [7 favorites]


Because I doubt very much that being a 9-year-old internet sensation is going to push Sam into puruing a career in the NFL, and I know that kids play rough in whatever circumstances anyway, I'm going to be unreserved in my enthusiasm for her ass-kicking.

GO SWEET FEET!
posted by Navelgazer at 10:34 PM on November 7, 2012



1) this shit isn't fake you fucking
Jim Garrisons give it a rest


There's no need to insult me. You don't think parts of the montage is sped up, that's fine. I'm not saying it's fake; she's clearly much faster than the vast majority of the other kids.
posted by smoke at 10:40 PM on November 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


This was awesome. If there had been American football where I grew up in Sweden, I would have played in a heartbeat. I played hockey and soccer instead, with the boys, and held my own perfectly fine thank you. Puck to the face and blood gushing on the ice, check. Concussion from being kicked in the head, check. Learning that I can do anything I set my mind to, despite it being a "boy" thing, check.

You go, Sam!
posted by gemmy at 10:41 PM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, it's clearly sped up, but I think not in any sense of deception, just for having it not drag and still getting all her good scores in. The point was her relative speed, not absolute, and she is clearly both faster and cannier (there were some awesome turns and dodges) than her opponents.

I'm not a huge fan of any kid playing football, but also think she's damn awesome.
posted by tavella at 10:50 PM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


8 year olds are plenty strong to concuss themselves let alone others...

Nah, not really, if they have a helmet on.

This girl is flat-out amazing. Although she does have some good blocking, her ability to hit the gap and run to daylight, plus just her crazy speed when she rounds the corner, is almost preternatural. She's got the eyes of a pro when looking for holes and getting through them. And either someone taught her or she figured it out on her own how to tackle when being she is outweighed by everyone else on the field. Instead of going head-on into her opponent, she strikes from the side or behind and drags them down, usually on top of her but hey, stops the run.

I wish her all the best, and that she's allowed to play the game for as long as it remains fun for her. Damn inspiring.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 10:52 PM on November 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


Purposeful Grimace is correct. It takes a LOT of force to concuss someone who's wearing a football helmet. NFL players get a lot of concussions, yes, but they're enormous and much, much faster than Sam!
posted by Joseph Gurl at 10:58 PM on November 7, 2012


(disclosure: I grew up playing "softer" sports like basketball, baseball, tennis, and track, but played NCAA Div I rugby in college...no helmets at all...I have in fact been concussed. But just the once.)
posted by Joseph Gurl at 10:59 PM on November 7, 2012


I home she considers switching over to Women's Rugby later on. The IRB is getting behind it and besides the Women's Rugby World Cup they are also launching a Womens Sevens series as well (Round 2 of the series is being played in Houston).
posted by PenDevil at 11:00 PM on November 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Agreed, PenDevil--women's rugby is awesome and her speed & fearlessness would be a weapon.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 11:05 PM on November 7, 2012


@ Joseph Gurl: It found that organized football among 5-to-15-year-olds had 12 per- cent fewer [athletic] injuries per capita than organized soccer for the same age group. Football also had 50 percent fewer injuries than bike riding and 74 percent fewer than skateboarding.

The article you link does not source the study you mention, so I can't confirm the details of the findings, and maybe my arguments are, in fact, addressed in that study.

I would argue that while the total count of injuries in these sports may be higher than football, the severity and long-term effects of the universe of those injuries are not captured in that quote. I suspect that bicycling and skateboarding injuries are predominately cuts and scrapes from crashes, and soccer injuries are probably knee injuries and hamstring strains. And yes, those things happen in football, too.

But what the rest of us are worried about here is the head injuries, the kind that slowly build disability as their frequency increases. There is not a large body of research on what repetitive minor head trauma does to young growing brains. Myelin, the protective coating on nerve cells, is still forming until adolescence. While the force generated by small bodies is not high, because their central nervous systems are not fully formed they do not have the same level of protection as adults. I suspect if you ask a pediatric neurologist what number of blows to the head is safe for a kid to sustain, the answer would be zero.

There is a non-zero risk of head injuries in those other sports, I'll concede. But the risk is much higher in football.
posted by OHSnap at 11:31 PM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


You mean where she does the flattening?

Probably not - there's a section titled 'taking a hit' which clearly shows her getting flattened. It's followed by a section called 'making a hit' which might be what you're referring to.

Basically she looks like an amazing athlete, I just consider it a terrible sport to be demonstrating that in. Concussion doesn't even require a direct head impact, just the kind of heavy tackle that knocks your body to the ground and jerks your head around. You can see a couple instances of that just in the video posted. I would in fact be staggered if she had not sustained a concussion in medical terms during the season, although I would not be surprised at all if nobody had checked.
posted by jacalata at 11:46 PM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


One of my joys in life is witnessing those rare occasions when the stars align and a human activity coincides with the particular preternatural tendencies of a given human brain. I know that it's basically just statistics, but it still seems like magic to me. That this girl found an activity which her brain is THAT MUCH BETTER at than everyone else's is, to me, what being a human being is all about. Go Sweet Feet!
posted by cthuljew at 12:05 AM on November 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


Love it. Girls are allowed to enjoy physically aggressive sports too y'all, I loved them. Little girls aren't magically more fragile than little boys, nor are they idiots, you know eventually the boys will outweigh you and outrun you because people are telling you from birth practically. Enjoy it while you can!
posted by fshgrl at 12:11 AM on November 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


I loved it. It especially resonated after the election and the general yay women of the outcomes.

Also she can tackle LIKE A BOSS.
posted by grapesaresour at 12:17 AM on November 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


She'll be a lethal jammer in roller derby, if she ever decides to.
posted by iamkimiam at 12:38 AM on November 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


Put her on a rugby field and she'd rock; she's a natural three quarter and wouldn't be weighed down by the protective gear.
posted by jaduncan at 12:42 AM on November 8, 2012


FWIW, I don't think she's any more fragile than the equivalent little boy, and would be saying exactly the same thing if this news story was about some wunderkind 8yo boy - that it's idiocy to have little kids play a sport that involves that kind of knocking around. I mean, it's still foolish as high schoolers or adults, but they have at least a little more agency and have made an informed decision to take whatever brain damage they get, right?
posted by jacalata at 1:26 AM on November 8, 2012


Loved this. I played with the boys when I was a kid. Loved it. Made me tough. Bruises were something to celebrate. Didn't make me unfeminine. What I find difficult is whatever sports she chooses as an adult, it will be with the modifier "women" in front of it, and she won't earn as much or be as revered as people with half her skill.
posted by b33j at 1:31 AM on November 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


We'll have her over here. The New Zealand women's rugby team is the best in the world.

And they don't wear helmets.
posted by arzakh at 2:07 AM on November 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


The All Blacks are pretty much the best on both sides of the gender split, no?
posted by jaduncan at 2:12 AM on November 8, 2012


Running fast is a sport in itself, and much safer. I'd make the same suggestion to a boy with the same talent.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 2:27 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would in fact be staggered if she had not sustained a concussion in medical terms during the season

Wow, that's alarmist. No way those hits caused unnoticed concussions. I'm very aware of the stages of brain development, but she's in full gear, with neck protector and helmet.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 2:29 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


(peewee football injuries are almost all scrapes and cuts, sprains and strains. Oh, and it's very possible to be concussed while skateboarding w/o protection or playing soccer, a sport that doesn't even include helmets--I've seen it happen.)
posted by Joseph Gurl at 2:32 AM on November 8, 2012


Running fast is a sport in itself, and much safer. I'd make the same suggestion to a boy with the same talent.

I did that. Varsity track in high school and college. But fuck that shit: it's boring. Of course for some people, team sports don't hit the spot, but for those who do, track can never satisfy.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 2:34 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


These girls don't look bored.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 2:51 AM on November 8, 2012


2) 8 year olds are not strong enough to concuss each other, chill


Pops Warner football league suspends 2 coaches over 5 concussion game

Not saying it's common, but it certainly happens.

Which is not to say she hasn't stolen my heart.
posted by the bricabrac man at 2:56 AM on November 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


She's clearly doping.
posted by Decani at 2:56 AM on November 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


Froot loops are on the banned list?
posted by telstar at 3:24 AM on November 8, 2012


She'll be a lethal jammer in roller derby, if she ever decides to.

I was just gonna say, this is the perfect background for a derby player. Give her a couple years to figure out the skating part and she'd be unstoppable.
posted by Sokka shot first at 3:33 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Seeing only men are in the NFL who make a career of it, this is all great and dandy but what good is it going to do her?
posted by stormpooper at 4:17 AM on November 8, 2012


...but what good is it going to do her?

See all comments by women in this thread so far.
posted by cthuljew at 4:23 AM on November 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Fuck yeah, kid. (Okay, tackle football with kids that young, um, but okay.)

Hey, if she wants to aim for scholarships etc, maybe she can switch over to girl's hockey - I think there's a college system for that these days and if there isn't there will be. I know one of my nephew's kids plays girl's hockey.

And now a moment of cheering for Title IX, which has made 'girls playing sports' a much more accessible and mainstream thing.
posted by rmd1023 at 4:28 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Running fast is a sport in itself, and much safer. I'd make the same suggestion to a boy with the same talent.

I did that. Varsity track in high school and college. But fuck that shit: it's boring. Of course for some people, team sports don't hit the spot, but for those who do, track can never satisfy.


Yeah, this is dead on. I like running, but the five weeks I spent on the indoor track team as off-season rugby training were some of the most boring training sessions I've ever done.

(Then I shredded both legs and couldn't run again until rugby, where the worst thing that ever happened was six stitches! Go Toads!) She would indeed seem to be a great candidate for rugby.
posted by jetlagaddict at 4:44 AM on November 8, 2012


I was one of those girls who played a ton of cornerlot football as a kid and absolutely, absolutely loved it. This was basically my dream when I was her age, but I think the combination of it being very early in the Title IX days and my even then being built more like a linebacker than running back meant that there wouldn't have been any viable position where I could have been competitive. So it fills my inner child with joy to see this.

I can only hope that 10 or 20 years from now women's professional football will have come along to at least the point where the WNBA is--at least able to pay the players a living wage. (Goddamn, watching that video makes me wish I were still in my 20s and somehow, you know, actually more athletic, because I would totally at least try out for the local team).

On the issue of injuries: interestingly, my other sporting passion as a child, which I set aside for 25 years and have returned to in my 40s, has a much higher rate of catastrophic injury than even football.* Any yet, if this were a video of Sam popping her pony around a course of fences at the local pony club show, who here would be screaming "BUT WHAT ABOUT THE HEAD INJURIES?" So I find it interesting that the discussion here as focused so strongly on that angle. It's only speculation, but somehow if this had been a video of the amazing accomplishments of an against-all-odds boy (an autistic child or an amputee, for example) the commenters would not be so quick with the "but OMG the concussion risk". Nor would do I expect we would see the discussion turn immediately to injury risks if we're talking about girls excelling at appropriately "girl" sports that nevertheless run high injury risks, such as cheerleading or softball.

*"A 2007 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that horseback riding resulted in 11.7 percent of all traumatic brain injuries in recreational sports from 2001 to 2005, the highest of any athletic activity. Of the estimated 14,446 horseback-related head injuries treated in 2009, 3,798 were serious enough to require hospitalization, for an estimated 4,958 concussions and 97 skull fractures."
posted by drlith at 4:52 AM on November 8, 2012 [8 favorites]


There are more options for women's tackle football out there, these days. I know a woman who plays for a Women's Football Alliance team, the Boston Militia
posted by rmd1023 at 4:56 AM on November 8, 2012


drlith: Football has been in the news lately re head injuries, because the ruinous structural policies of the NFL hugely increase the risk of head injuries of professional players, and greatly shorten their life spans. If this had been posted six months ago or a year from now, it would have missed the football concussion vogue.
posted by cthuljew at 4:56 AM on November 8, 2012


Here's a message board post she made two days ago about the origin of her jersey number. She seems like a great kid... hope she enjoys her internet fame!
posted by MegoSteve at 5:14 AM on November 8, 2012


It's only speculation, but somehow if this had been a video of the amazing accomplishments of an against-all-odds boy (an autistic child or an amputee, for example) the commenters would not be so quick with the "but OMG the concussion risk".

From reading other Metafilter thread on football I think your speculation is wrong. People here don't like kids playing football (who can blame them?), as evidenced by the fact that most of the comments here about head injuries are free of gender content. I agree that we would see less in a conversation about horseback riding or cheerleading, but we'd also see less if she were succeeding in a male dominated sport with a high injury risk other than football. The important variable here for Metafilter is football not gender.

I do find it interesting that people don't talk about injuries in horseback riding (maybe it's just something so few people do that no one cares?), but it's not surprising that a sport that amounts to sitting on the back of a giant kicking beast is dangerous.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 5:26 AM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Watch this random compilation of High School football hits and then tell me that I'm being silly or sexist to worry about this kid's well being.

This isn't about gender equality. This is common sense.
posted by Optamystic at 5:26 AM on November 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Father-to-be here (we are expecting a boy), and I will tell you that when the video started with the touchdowns, I was thinking "Yeah! It would be awesome to get my son or his cousin into football!".

Then I got to the portion where she is taking the hits, and I can't see how any reasonable rational parent can think that there is no real risk is letting their child take hits like that. All it takes is one awkward hit, at an awkward position or with an awkward landing. Great that is she is doing well, but the fact that she has not gotten injured does not mean the risk is small for her or for her teammates.

There are so many other sports out there where this risk is infinitely smaller simply because hits are not "part of the game". You bet your sweet ass I will be enrolling my kid in one of those.
posted by TheyCallItPeace at 5:31 AM on November 8, 2012


Her cutback at 1:07 in the linked video is jawdropping. The way she makes that other kid miss reminds me of that scene in Top Gun where Maverick throws on the brakes and the MiG flies right by.
posted by echocollate at 6:27 AM on November 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


That picture of her in her uniform in TFA is pretty badass.
posted by gc at 6:28 AM on November 8, 2012


Is this where we start comparing the number of stitches we received for scalp wounds?
posted by infini at 6:47 AM on November 8, 2012


Watch this random compilation of High School football hits and then tell me that I'm being silly or sexist to worry about this kid's well being.

I'll watch it when you tell me how old Sweet Feet is, and whether or not kids her age are in high school.
posted by 23skidoo at 6:54 AM on November 8, 2012


"Watch this random compilation of High School football hits and then tell me that I'm being silly"

You're comparing a high-school 'jacked-up' highlight real to the typical hits in a pee-wee game? Games with kids almost twice her age and easily 2-3 times her size?

You're being silly.
posted by anti social order at 6:57 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


smoke, my Jim Garrison comment was directed to:

Some of the footage is sped up obviously but the torso doesnt match the body.

I neglected to quote last night because I was drunk.
posted by nathancaswell at 6:57 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


This isn't that surprising really...prepubescent girls and boys are similar physically. She undoubtedly has a nervous system developing early, which accounts for the speed and the agility. I agree with the others that this will end come puberty, but given the rise of womens' sports like rugby there's no reason to slow down.

Having played rugby I'd say that the smaller kids have far less chance of hurting themselves in contact field sports. Hockey is probably a lot worse than football, given the presence of harder surfaces, sticks, hard pucks, blades, and the speed achieved on skates. If you could design a sport to be unhealthy, it's probably hockey. Football, especially that played on grass, is much more forgiving.
posted by jimmythefish at 7:01 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


She'll be a lethal jammer in roller derby, if she ever decides to.

She could get started right now!
posted by Lucinda at 7:06 AM on November 8, 2012


I understand it, but also refuse to put up with the brain injury apologists still kicking around. Junior Seau, you assholes.
posted by Brocktoon at 7:16 AM on November 8, 2012


2) 8 year olds are not strong enough to concuss each other, chill

Exactly, so let them play. They'll be concussing each other soon enough.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 7:20 AM on November 8, 2012


I don't think anyone really knows whether youth football is unsafe (or more or less unsafe than other sports). See this NYT article:
The study, the first of its kind for participants that young, placed sensors in the helmets of seven youth football players ages 6 to 8 during their 2011 season. Calling it a pilot, Duma expected the impacts to be too inconsequential to record.

Results showed that about 95 percent of the impacts were between 15 and 20 g’s — what Duma likened to an “aggressive pillow fight.” The other 5 percent spiked to 50 to 100 g’s — what Duma characterized as a “car accident.”

Duma noted that collegiate and professional football players had a low risk for concussions at 100 g’s. But research has shown that the damage from concussions can be cumulative, and that the brains of younger athletes may be particularly susceptible. So Pop Warner tried to lessen the number of impacts by reducing incidents in practice, when a majority of the “car accidents” took place, according to Duma.

...

“There’s much more that we don’t know, than what we do know,” Guskiewicz said about football’s impact on head injuries. Pop Warner has decided to wait for more definitive proof before issuing even more restrictive rules. Guskiewicz said it could take another four or five years before research determines the short-term effects, and the length of an adult life to determine the resulting cause of depression or dementia.

...

Butler, Pop Warner’s executive director, estimated that if the country’s largest youth football organization were to outlaw all contact and go to a flag-football approach, about 90 to 95 percent of the players would leave and find tackle football elsewhere. He also predicted they would sustain concussions in other sports.

“We can’t wrap them in bubble wrap,” he said. “It just doesn’t work that way.”
So there's a non-zero chance that young kids will have long term effects from brain injuries in youth football -- and no one can tell you what that chance is. On the other hand, there's a non-zero chance of the same thing from skateboarding, playing on jungle gyms, etc., where kids are wearing less protective gear.
posted by jhc at 7:24 AM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


On the other hand, there's a non-zero chance of the same thing from skateboarding, playing on jungle gyms, etc., where kids are wearing less protective gear.

I think this kind of reasoning is an example of the broken window fallacy. Its proponents argue that if young children weren't allowed to play tackle football, they would do other things where they would suffer more concussions. We don't know that. It's like saying that speed limits make drivers run into trees on foot more.
posted by Nomyte at 7:39 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Be thankful she didn't choose competitive cheer. More injuries happen in that sport than in any other.
posted by Kokopuff at 7:51 AM on November 8, 2012


I have this argument with my wife almost every day. She's more of the "swaddle 'em with bubble wrap" school of parenting, and I'm more of the "throw them at a bunch of activities and see what sticks" school.

My 6-year-old girl is not on a football team, but she's tried gymnastics (meh), chess club (meh), running club (loves it), archery (likewise), hiking (yes), bouldering (oh sweet lord yes), suicide sledding (don't tell Mom), and whatever vigorous game is going on at the corner park. No concussions yet, although she did break her arm (playing human bowling ball on the slide), and loosened a tooth (wrestling with her brother). And yeah, I got hell for the broken arm (I just looked away for a second! Honest!), but I view all of these things as calculated risks.

For each activity, I calculate the benefit versus the cost. I'm going to keep her away from horseback riding (primarily because of the dollar cost, but also the risk of catastrophic injury), and we won't be going hunting for deer, either. But if she finds something that she loves and that she is kick-ass awesome at (like football for Sweet Feet), then you bet I'll be supporting her to the hilt.
posted by math at 7:56 AM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Whoever said 8 year olds can't concuss themselves/eachother is ignorant not just of human anatomy and physiology, but also of basic physics.
posted by legospaceman at 8:08 AM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


I started playing basketball when I was about nine. I didn't care that I was often the only girl out there. Or that the boys I played with were usually at least six inches taller and outweighed me by at least 50 lbs. I loved basketball, and that was all that mattered.

Yes, I got injured. Sometimes I got really injured. There were multiple concussions, sprains, cuts, and bruises. My knees are permanently damaged. Some days, even now, years after I've stopped playing competitively, I'm in pain from injuries sustained during high school, or middle school even. My knees are already becoming arthritic and some days I have problems walking.

But if somebody gave me the use of their time machine in order to go back and tell my younger self that I didn't have to play so much, or so hard, or that maybe trying to take a charge on the guy twice my weight was a bad idea because of my future health? I wouldn't change a thing.

Because even though I can't run the court anymore and sometimes I can't even walk, when I was playing basketball with everything I had, I could fly. And knowing that makes it all worth it.
posted by emmling at 8:42 AM on November 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


But if somebody gave me the use of their time machine in order to go back and tell my younger self that I didn't have to play so much, or so hard, or that maybe trying to take a charge on the guy twice my weight was a bad idea because of my future health? I wouldn't change a thing.

About that moped? And the knee surgery? And the current challenge coming down the stairs?

Nope. Still wouldn't change a thing.

You are immortal with the wind in your hair at 11.
posted by infini at 8:47 AM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


I love seeing her run past everybody and crush the boys, but I also see as advanced a player as I have ever seen at about any level below varsity football. She has real football IQ and is a patient runner; she is setting up blocks, waiting for the holes to open and constantly looking for cutbacks, she could teach some NFL running backs a thing or two. She sees angles well and understands the game. Sure, she may not be able to make a living playing pro football, but I would also make sure she was playing midfield/forward in soccer or point guard in basketball, where she could at least earn a scholarship to play college ball in those sports or even make some good cash.

Oh, and she keeps putting her hand up to her facemask to adjust her helmet when she is running, someone get her a helmet that fits!
posted by roquetuen at 8:58 AM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


I imagine her in the huddle smacking helmuts and yelling "YOU WERE DRIFTING. Flip six, three hole. On one -- got it?"
posted by hmo at 9:12 AM on November 8, 2012


And all of you saying the video is not speeded up: In most of the clips, the adults in the background are running around like effing Benny Hill, for crying out loud.
posted by The World Famous at 9:19 AM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


I see a lot of football IQ too. I'm against the risk of brain injuries inherent in football, I'm for the rise of women's leagues like the one mentioned above (have to check out the DC Divas sometime), and wonder if Sweet Feet couldn't make a living as a coach someday even if she can't as a player.
posted by postel's law at 9:40 AM on November 8, 2012


why is there even such a thing as tackle football for 8-10 year olds?

Had someone thought to ask that many years back, I wouldn't have broken my nose on some kid's head. The result is still visible decades later.
posted by Obscure Reference at 10:49 AM on November 8, 2012


The World Famous: "And all of you saying the video is not speeded up: In most of the clips, the adults in the background are running around like effing Benny Hill, for crying out loud."

Also, did anyone even notice the gorilla walking across the field? What was that all about?
posted by stet at 11:02 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


people aren't saying it isn't sped up - they're saying she isn't sped up more than the others on the field through some sort of editing trickery. specifically being refuted is this : but the torso doesnt match the body.
posted by nadawi at 11:09 AM on November 8, 2012


some of you are cracking my shit up - saying football is too rough, too dangerous - better make her switch to soccer or rugby or roller derby, right?
posted by nadawi at 11:13 AM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


specifically being refuted is this : but the torso doesnt match the body.

Ah - you're right. I'm not seeing it, either.

saying football is too rough, too dangerous - better make her switch to soccer or rugby or roller derby, right?

Regardless of how rough football may or may not be for that particular age group under that particular set of rules, the fact is that American Football at virtually every other level is so much more rough than those and other sports in terms of traumatic brain injury that its very future is in serious doubt. My problem with youth football is less about how much injury the kids are likely to sustain when they're nine years old than how much they're likely to sustain when they hit puberty and still want to play football.

That said, if this nine-year-old girl is playing full-contact, tackle football against a 150-pound kid, as the article claims, that is an area for serious concern, no matter how much bravado the parents and other folks want to toss around. She weighs 60 pounds and she is being full-on football tackled by a kid who weighs two and a half times as much as her. If a 150-pound adult tackled a 60-pound nine-year-old at full speed, people would call child protective services.
posted by The World Famous at 11:43 AM on November 8, 2012


The adults seem to be moving at normal speed in the clips where I could get a good view of them, though I didn't go through the whole video checking every clip. The children may appear sped-up because of the opposite of the giant mecha effect:
"If you're a ten-millimetre-long ant, nine point eight metres per second squared is 980 times your body length per second squared. If you stand on your hind legs and tip forward a little bit, you'll be on the ground almost instantly... When a two-metre-tall human tilts forward, they'll take 200 times as long to hit the ground as a ten-millimetre-tall ant."
The shorter you are, the less time you have to get your feet into place before gravity pulls them back to the ground. Small people, like small animals, have to skitter just to keep their balance as they walk or run.
posted by mbrubeck at 11:51 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


well, since everyone basically agrees that once puberty hits she'll have to change sports or find a womens' league, it seems a little overboard to keep harping on it here.

also, looking around, i don't see support for, " the fact is that American Football at virtually every other level is so much more rough than those and other sports in terms of traumatic brain injury". according to the numbers on this page baseball and softball come up just behind football - cycling is double the head injuries. if she were playing softball in this clip, no one would have mentioned head injuries. football is a lightning rod for the conversation (for a lot of good reasons), but the type of injuries show up in other sports as well.
posted by nadawi at 12:33 PM on November 8, 2012


That page says:
The following 20 sports/recreational activities represent the categories contributing to the highest number of estimated head injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms in 2009.
(Emphasis added)

So that does not include any injuries where the player does not go to the emergency room, and therefore does not account for the multiple times per game that a football player receives a significant blow to the head. If we're talking about the likelihood that a player will go to the ER because of a game injury, then yes, football is number 2 behind cycling. But if we compare the the number of times in a four-hour span of regular, incident-free play in which a football player receives a blow to the head versus the same number for cycling, I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that cyclists don't get hit in the head as often as football players.
posted by The World Famous at 12:57 PM on November 8, 2012


ok, but what of rugby? or soccer? or cheerleading? or roller derby? you don't think people shake off injuries there? you don't think there's a lot of shots to the head in the middle of a scrum? other people suggest hockey where straight up fighting is a part of the sport. things need to change in football and in all contact sports. all the same, there's nothing wrong with this girl playing peewee football.
posted by nadawi at 1:01 PM on November 8, 2012


People certainly do shake off injuries in each of those games, yes. Rugby is the only one of the three that I would suspect has a similar number of blows to the head as American football, but football's tactics using the head as a battering ram and similar head trauma are quite different from those in Rugby, due in large part to the use of helmets in Football which, quite often, only increases the likelihood that a player will sustain repeated and untreated head injuries over the course of a game or season. Likewise, although hockey does include actual straight-up fighting, the number of blows to the head per game is much higher in football, due to the fact that most football players sustain at least one blow to the head during every single play of a football game, if not more than one blow per play. Moreover, most youth hockey leagues that I know of specifically prohibit fighting of any kind, whereas youth football leagues do not prohibit the kind of full contact that causes football's recurring and cumulative minor head injuries.
posted by The World Famous at 1:07 PM on November 8, 2012


Meh, I'm going to go with both:

(A) You go girl

and

(B) Don't let your 8-year-olds play organized tackle football

...and nor worry about trying to resolve the inconsistency right now.
posted by Fists O'Fury at 2:04 PM on November 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


since this thread is dieseling already i cant stop myself from stepping on the pedal again:

is the science really clear that younger brains are more susceptible to damage from head blows than older brains?

Why would evolution not have designed for the repeated thwacks, dohs, oofs and smacks that early childhood and even the toddler age inflicts?

I was protective as hell of my sons but couldnt keep them from falling, walking into moving things, accidentally pulling over heavy things on themselves?

If anything i think kids brains would have to be more insulated from those types of medium grade dings (and thats what pee wee football is, its not car train collisions)?

Maybe comparing pee wee to NFL and college football is too easy for people who never watch the game. Knee jerks are extremely dangerous to one's head by they way:-)
posted by Colonel Panic at 2:46 PM on November 8, 2012


Awesome. That's an athlete. She has instinct, vision, agility, toughness. I liked her tackling as much as her running. Those proposing rugby when football gets unrealistic (and it would) are dead on.

And for those bleating about the video speeding up, ever watch NFL highlights? It's common practice; it's not a misrepresentation of her abilities.
posted by raider at 4:38 PM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Link is down due to copywrite. Anybody find an alternate?
posted by postel's law at 7:25 PM on November 8, 2012


Here it is in "HD" and different music:

[HD] 8-Year-Old Girl Sam Gordon Beasting At Her Youth Football League!

Original with questionable music:

8-Year-Old Girl Sam Gordon Beasting At Her Youth Football League!

She is crazy amazing.
posted by Golden Eternity at 7:42 PM on November 8, 2012


Rugby is the only one of the three that I would suspect has a similar number of blows to the head as American football, but football's tactics using the head as a battering ram and similar head trauma are quite different from those in Rugby, due in large part to the use of helmets in Football which, quite often, only increases the likelihood that a player will sustain repeated and untreated head injuries over the course of a game or season. Likewise, although hockey does include actual straight-up fighting, the number of blows to the head per game is much higher in football, due to the fact that most football players sustain at least one blow to the head during every single play of a football game, if not more than one blow per play. Moreover, most youth hockey leagues that I know of specifically prohibit fighting of any kind, whereas youth football leagues do not prohibit the kind of full contact that causes football's recurring and cumulative minor head injuries.

This comment is so fully of guessing and assumptions that it can't even really be responded to.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 9:11 PM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Does that mean I win the internet? Please say I win the internet. I've always wanted an internet.
posted by The World Famous at 10:44 PM on November 8, 2012


No, but perhaps it's not yr fault--you've probably been concussed...
posted by Joseph Gurl at 1:13 AM on November 9, 2012


Why would evolution not have designed for the repeated thwacks, dohs, oofs and smacks that early childhood and even the toddler age inflicts?

Because evolution doesn't design for anything? Why wouldn't evolution design for not having women and children die during childbirth, or for not having children be helpless and a drag on the mother for years before they can even walk and feed themselves? That's gotta contribute to deaths!

/eyeroll
posted by jacalata at 12:52 PM on November 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sam showcases her moves against Marshall Faulk and Warren Sapp on NFL Gameday morning (autoplay video)
posted by Jakey at 11:19 AM on November 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


She's on the Wheaties Box.
posted by sweetkid at 8:00 PM on November 21, 2012


previous link is broken. This is a GREAT inteview. Includes the Wheaties box and a Mel Kiper scouting report.
posted by Golden Eternity at 8:55 PM on November 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


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