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Apparently Some Barriers Need to be Broken More than Once
October 22, 2008 4:17 PM   Subscribe

October 18, 1997, Liz Heaston becomes the first woman to score points in a college football game (NAIA), kicking for Willamette in their victory over Linfield College. August 30, 2001, Ashley Martin kicks three extra points for Jacksonville State University, helping them in their 72-10 defeat of Cumberland, and becoming the first woman to score points in a Division 1 game. August 30, 2003, Katie Hnida becomes the face of women in college football when she scores two extra points in New Mexico's victory over Texas State University. She received harassment and (alleged) assault from her former teammates at Colorado University before becoming the first woman to core points in a Division 1-A game, as well as the first to suit up for a bowl game. Five years later, Kacy Stuart, a 14-year-old High School Freshman who can kick 50-yard Field Goals, is facing opposition for suiting up for the New Creation Center Crusaders, first from the league, and now from the other teams...
posted by Navelgazer (41 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
New Creation Center Crusaders

"What life experiences have you had that you feel makes you a good fit for our firm?"

"Well, I am a graduate of Complete Fucking Denial of Reality High School, Inc."
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 4:32 PM on October 22, 2008 [6 favorites]


I'm always amazed at how petty folks get over fucking youth sports. It's not like she's going to contaminate the boys with her extra X-chromosome or something. And her team wants her to play, so it's not a question of skill. I'm also still bitter about the shit I got in elementary and middle school for being the girl who played little league. One of the league moms, even after my mom asked her politely to stop, kept insisting that I switch to softball so I could be with girls because playing with the boys was unladylike or something.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 4:36 PM on October 22, 2008


From one of the links:

The first team Kacy faced relied on the Bible to express its beliefs about female football players in a pregame statement, said New Creation athletic director Coach Ken Townley.

“The East Atlanta Mustangs didn’t play us under protest but they were allowed to read a statement on their beliefs about female football players,” Townley said. “They used biblical verses from the book of Romans. I was very stunned by that.


Funny, I don't remember football being mentioned in the bible.
posted by photoslob at 4:40 PM on October 22, 2008


cooties.

the only possible explanation.
posted by stubby phillips at 4:47 PM on October 22, 2008


As a 6th grader I was the only girl on my middle school football team. I think I played free safety or something. I was pretty bad, but so was the rest of the team. We actually never scored a single point all season. The coach and administrators always treated me completely fairly, but its not like I was "one of the guys." All of the other players pretty much refused to tackle me for months until the coach finally called them out on it. Few people cared enough about shitty middle school football to do any serious heckling at games.

I got mad props from other girls at school for doing it though, and older women thought it was fantastic.
posted by Suparnova at 4:51 PM on October 22, 2008 [3 favorites]


I know some pro teams that could use a kicker that can kick that far.
posted by bjgeiger at 4:57 PM on October 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


Middle School boys are all walking bags of insecurity. Sometimes that continues to high school. Often those people tend to play high school. If they don't get rid of it by then it's often collegiate then lifelong.

A girl coming in and being better than them at something as "manly" as foot ball upsets them. But better than that it hopefully teaches them a valuable lesson about gender neutrality and sexism.

... but something tells me she should get the heck away from that school... yikes.
posted by Lacking Subtlety at 4:59 PM on October 22, 2008


Navelgazer, thanks for this. I have been a Denver Broncos fan long enough that I remember when #7 was worn by Craig Morton, and as an elementary schooler I desperately wanted to be able to play football "for real." Being a girl made me ineligible for official Peewee Football, but I luckily went to a school where the principal came out at lunchtime with the fifth and sixth graders to throw the ball around, and he always encouraged the two or three girls who were interested to take part.

We loved it. I can still remember the shrieky noontime chorus of "Ellerby! Mr. Ellerby! I'm open!" in the fall air. I wasn't very good at catching, but I was good at running, and one day Mr. Ellerby handed off the ball to me at a critical moment. I dodged Danny Leal, made my way past a cheering Jeff Schroeder (oh, the crush I had on Jeff Schroeder, the crush -- would this be the thing that inspired him to ask me to skate with him, one day, at the roller rink?), and headed down to where Eric Markstrom stood, hollering encouragement. "Go, Cody, go!"

I was on my way. I would score a touchdown. I would, for one day, be a hero to the boys and girls alike of Bennett Elementary. Until my nemesis, Steve Schmear (yes, that was his name), stepped in front of me, put his head down, and plowed his skull into my face.

The ball popped out of my hands. My glasses smashed into my cheekbone. I went to the ground. The black eye lasted all winter.

And nearly 30 years later, I'm glad girls still play football.
posted by scody at 5:02 PM on October 22, 2008 [27 favorites]


I hope this at least teaches her something about the wages of biblical literalism, which are a whole lot crappier than the wages of sin.
posted by Countess Elena at 5:09 PM on October 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


don't let 'em stop you!
posted by tangenjill at 5:14 PM on October 22, 2008


scody - wow. you kick ass.

I'm a guy, and in truth, baseball is my sport, but I've always had fun whenever I played football with whoever was around (which usually involved a few girls or, once I got older, women) and I have to say that my greatest sports moment ever came from a game of football in my freshman year of highscool gym.

We had picked teams to start, but the coach had picked one highly competitive kid (named Phillip) and one artsy give-a-shit kid (named Rich) as captains. Accordingly, each just choosed their own friends, as Rich would rather have made his own crowd happy to be picked than to worry about winning a P.E. game. We made Rich (who was roughly five feet tall, but smart) our quarterback.

We got scored on about ten times in the next forty minutes, without scoring at all in return. But then, in the last couple minutes of class, we had the ball and I scrambled forawrd at the scrimage. They were rushing Rich, who had no pass protection because we didn't know shit about strategy, and he caught my eye and flung the ball up in the air in the hopes that I could get it.

I did. Miraculously. And then I ran like hell.

I can still remember Rich's terrified face as five or six guys came upon him at once, and I still remember Phillip's sneer as he screamed at me that he'd fucking kill me if I didn't stop running. But I was faster than he was, and I scored our one touchdown of the day.

As we walked back, having been beaten like 70-7 or something like that, we were cheering in victory, as Phillip's team bitched in defeat. FUnny the way our perspective works on things like that.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:18 PM on October 22, 2008 [6 favorites]


Nice to see my alma mater Willamette pop up here in the blue. Go Bearcats! And no, none of us are entirely sure what a bearcat is. Depictions ranged widely from a lovable teddy bear to a nightmare-inducing demon cat.

Funny, I don't remember football being mentioned in the bible.

No, but there is the great line in Leviticus 11:7-8 about it being forbidden to touch the skin of a pig. I imagine footballs probably aren't made of pigskin anymore, but I can't help thinking a lot of people conveniently ignored that one.
posted by sapere aude at 5:32 PM on October 22, 2008


Shit, did I really write the word "choosed"?

I'm off to go sit in a corner now.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:33 PM on October 22, 2008


Well, for my part, I did a triple take when my eyes passed over the name Linfield, my alma mater. (I almost went to Willamette, fwiw.)
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 5:35 PM on October 22, 2008


This high school stuff is bullshit. The Georgia state rules clearly spell out the same rules for virtually every state high school sports authority -- that if a sport doesn't already have a recognized girls team (i.e. there's no girls-only football team for her to join), then girls can play on the boys team.*

I mean, this is like, a 30-year-old rule by now. This is probably why the school eventually caved in. Someone showed them The. Fucking. Rule. Book.

* Funny, Georgia doesn't recognize the reverse. In Georgia, boys can't play on girls teams, period. In other states, if there's, say, no boys field hockey team, then boys can play on the girls team.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:42 PM on October 22, 2008


I think girls and women should be able to play any position at any level they want to as long as they make the cut, the same as the boys/men. And it shouldn't be any more or less of a big deal if a girl breaks her leg or something than it would if a guy did. (I'm a guy and I played high school football.)
posted by kirkaracha at 5:55 PM on October 22, 2008


Because I really hope to see women finally integrated into the top-tier professional sports within my lifetime, I'm tangentially interested in the fact that all the women who are breaking these barriers are doing so as place-kickers. It makes sense that a woman would be more likely to be given a chance on special teams, where she is in less danger of being taken down by the men on the opposing team, but I think it has more to do with specialization.

Kacy's story (which reminded me a lot of Harry Potter being chosen for quidditch) is of an apparently kick-ass coach watching during a routine P.E. class and then holding her afterwards because she had shown an outstanding ability which could be translated into a position that most aspiring football players don't aim for. Ellen is right - it isn't easy. And it's not just about getting the form and having the athletics to pull it off, but about having the presence of mind to do so in a short amount of time while a bunch of people are running at you hoping to knock you down before you get the chance. Kacy seems to be very good at this, particularly for her age. As has been noted above, with the right guidance, she could possibly be pro-level in a few years.

I think it's odd to imagine that there aren't women who could hold their own with the men at the other positions, however, and that's what I'm curious about. I've thought about this a lot more with baseball (where I'm more knowledgeable) and I've come to the conclusion that the first woman in the MLB will most likely be a pitcher, or else possibly a pinch hitter or pinch runner. For some reason I can't imagine that the scouting reports would pay any attention to a woman who was just as good a fielder as, say, Torii Hunter, as much as a team might need someone like her. They'll probably be willing to take a chance on someone who can pitch like Papelbon, or hit like Ortiz, or run like Johnny Damon (my Red Sox roots are showing).

I think the "presence of mind" thing comes into play again here. In general, I don't think people are surprised that a girl can kick as well as a boy, and in my baseball examples, I don't think people would be all that surprised at a woman being as good or better at pitching, clutch hitting, or strategic speed. All of these pair athletic ability with a keen mental ability (and Baseball is at least 90% mental) that even chauvanists have conceeded that girls and women have in equal or greater amount than men.

Still, to break into the pro sports, the women who do so sadly won't be able to just because they can field propery and bat around the Mendoza Line, but will have to be so outstanding that a team is willing to say "fuck you" to tradition in order to break the barrier.

And when that happens, I'll spend whatever I have to in order to cheer her from field level.
posted by Navelgazer at 6:11 PM on October 22, 2008 [5 favorites]


One issue with women in pro-sports, and breaking into male dominated pro-sports, is women injure differently. This is being shown a lot in US highschool level sport played by girls, who are injuring themselves at a very high rate (soccer is one huge offender). Even if young women have the ability, if they are not trained and treated right, they will bish themselves before they have a chance to advance to the pro-level.

A similar situation is the Armed Forces - there are perennial arguments here in Australia (and elsewhere I am willing to bet) about the fact that women are disuaded/kept out of certain positions because the fitness requirements are too hard. The fact is the job requires x ability. I don't care if you are male or female, if you can pass the test you should be allowed in. But if there is a requirement and you can't do it, you can't do it. And if your job is going to potentially require you to do hard physical activity (carrying a heavy pack across the desert/taking a tackle) lowering the requirements is not a good idea.

I am remembering that women have played professional level ice hockey, which is not my field of expertise. Do girls at highschool level participate in ice hockey much, and if so how do they go?
posted by Megami at 6:29 PM on October 22, 2008


They used biblical verses from the book of Romans.
Romans 32:15 -- Go ye forth and become bagges of douche as the spirit moveth ye.
posted by joaquim at 6:42 PM on October 22, 2008 [4 favorites]


Thanks for this. It took me a while to unpack all of the links in the FPP. In case anyone else missed
Kacy Stuart on the Ellen Show in there, it's well worth watching.
posted by msalt at 6:51 PM on October 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


October 22, 2008, Navelgazer continues the inexplicable sportswriting tradition of referring to past events in present tense.

(just funnin'--great post)
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:55 PM on October 22, 2008


Steve Schmear, a name that will live in infamy...
posted by buzzman at 7:53 PM on October 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


Hey, look, there's my alma mater and its idiocy regarding Katie Hnida.

The Hnida fiasco is one big reason when I came into some money I gave to my employer rather than my alma mater. The University of Colorado was asleep at the wheel on all levels with Hnida's sexual assault.

One day I think I may give money to them again, but I'm still angry over their stupidity.
posted by dw at 8:24 PM on October 22, 2008


I've thought about this a lot more with baseball (where I'm more knowledgeable) and I've come to the conclusion that the first woman in the MLB will most likely be a pitcher...

So far, Ila Borders has come the closest. Toni Stone and several other women played in the Negro League.

or else possibly a pinch hitter or pinch runner.

Baseball is unlikely to spend a roster spot on someone solely for their pinch running skills, although it's been done. And for pinch hitting, you want someone with a little power, and that's where women will have the most trouble, because of upper body strength differences. Not to say it couldn't be done, just unlikely.

But if this guy and this guy can be successful, I can easily see a woman filling this kind of role sooner rather than later.

The biggest why-don't-they-play question in my mind is basketball, though. You're telling me you'd rather have the 10-11-12 persons on the bench be giant lumbering stiffs that can barely run up and down the court, when a decent offensive option like Candace Parker is available? I remember watching Teresa Edwards play for Seattle's ABA team, while at the time, the 12th man on the Seattle Sonics bench was Steve Scheffler, aka the "human victory cigar" that only got into the game when the Sonics were up by 30 points. Ludicrous.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:26 PM on October 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


What makes this all inevitable is that bigoted and chavinististic dudes care about one thing more than maintaining their attitudes--their favorite team winning.

When these 50-yard field-goal kicking women start playing for their team, the attitude will change. I can't imagine the worst racists wanting black players off their favorite team.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:28 PM on October 22, 2008 [2 favorites]


A similar situation is the Armed Forces - there are perennial arguments here in Australia (and elsewhere I am willing to bet) about the fact that women are disuaded/kept out of certain positions because the fitness requirements are too hard. The fact is the job requires x ability. I don't care if you are male or female, if you can pass the test you should be allowed in. But if there is a requirement and you can't do it, you can't do it. And if your job is going to potentially require you to do hard physical activity (carrying a heavy pack across the desert/taking a tackle) lowering the requirements is not a good idea.

I think this is so. Frankly, women will be playing a lot in male pro sports when they are able to compete at the same level.

I think that where people are going to be suprised is how fast that time is going to come. I do believe there will always be fewer women at the top level of physical-contact sports than men, but that the sexes will overlap a lot more at the elite levels at some point. They sure as hell do for the regular population. For a sport like long-distance running, I've seen predictions that women will eventually overtake men in terms of world records and the like.

Whenever people tell me women can't and won't fight in combat, I always ask them what the record for women shooting down airplanes in battle is.

The answer is 12 by Lydia Litvyak.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:43 PM on October 22, 2008


Cool Papa Bell: I can't quite wrap my head around the basketball thing either. Futurama famously made the joke in their Amozonian Woman Planet episode that the women there play basket ball but "We don't dunk. Just great fundamentals. That more fun to watch." While there may be some truth to that, part of that truth is that the WNBA players have fucking great fundamentals! Much better than what you get out of, say, Steve Francis, and dozens of other players who are only out for their own highlights. A woman like Candace Parker (who can dunk, by the way) could more than hold her own on the court, but would also know how to best get the ball where it needs to be for the score.

My best guess is that Basketball suffers from a lot of the same machismo that Football does, but without anything akin to special teams (where they might even let a Mule have a chance if he can prove himself.) There's also probably the worry about basketball being so high-contact. I can understand that, honestly. There's a comment in, I believe, the last linked article where the commenter is all in favor of having Kacy play, but mentions the real concern that the boys playing with and against her have been conditioned not to be rough with girls, as they must be with the opposing team to be effective. What happens when the offensive lineman can get behind the defensive line and can take her down but hesitates for a split second, while the defensive lineman has no qualms about taking the tackle's head off?

Truth be told, I've barely ever seen a placekicker get sacked, so I'm not too worried for Kacy, plus she's wearing a helmet and pads and I think she can take it. It does change the rules for full-contact in people's minds a little bit though. It feels weird to be in a position where I want Kacy to be treated equally, and know that means that she needs to be hit as hard as the rest of her teammates for that to happen.

Still, go Kacy!

(and thanks for the stuff about Ila Borders and Toni Stone!)
posted by Navelgazer at 8:52 PM on October 22, 2008


One girl I knew in my sorority, if she'd been inclined (she was a math major instead) could easily have taken all but the biggest guys...she was about 6' 2" tall and built like a tank, if she was a guy they would have called her Bubba and been dying to have her in for football. Everyone assumed she was a lesbian who didn't know her; I tend to think she was just too far out of the norm for most men. But she was awesome; when the national org didn't like our focus on grades instead of trolling for MRS degrees, and decided to shut our chapter down, she cooked the books so we got to use our dues for an awesome blowout party instead of sending them to the people who screwed us over. She's still my hero.
posted by emjaybee at 8:53 PM on October 22, 2008 [4 favorites]


And Megami, the type of thing you're discussing has been an issue in New York for a few years now, as women taking the FDNY exams are subject to less stringent physical standards than the men. In that case, I agree that it's not about equal employment opportunity, but about making sure that the people in that position (which is about lifesaving, as I understand it) are capable of doing the job. Some, but not all, women can meet that criteria. Some but not all men can as well. If you're in danger from a fire, you don't care what gender is doing the fireman's carry, you just care that they can carry your weight.

This is the same thing in pro sports, though. Women interested in competing with the men shouldn't be graded on a curve, but should be at least considered equally with them if they can measure up properly. It seems like Kacy Stuart measures up, and that other people in the league can't handle it (my roommate, from Georgia, is happy to know that her mom and her team are fighting for her now, and as he said it, the towns in South Georgia at least place football victories way higher on their priorities lists than any sexist opinions they might hold.)

So yeah. Equality, on all levels. Not everybody will qualify, but those who do shouldn't be subject to irrelevant matters.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:08 PM on October 22, 2008


I was the only girl who played football with on my elementary school playground and when I was 10, I dreamed of growing up and becoming the first professional female football star. Sadly, I'm asthmatic with flat feet. I'm as un-sporty as they come. And I'm still waiting for the female pro.

In the meantime I've got the IWFL.
posted by serazin at 9:10 PM on October 22, 2008


Oddly enough, the Oregonian just did a couple articles on women in football.

These days girls aren't just kickers

And girls playing varsity football in Oregon goes back at least until 1981. I had no idea that it involved Canadians and Helen Hunt.
posted by afflatus at 9:32 PM on October 22, 2008


Funny, I don't remember football being mentioned in the bible.

There is a mention of baseball in there, however.

"In the big inning..."
posted by First Post at 12:33 AM on October 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Whatever ended up happening with the NCAA potentially banning women's teams practising against male practice squads?
posted by garlic at 4:11 AM on October 23, 2008


If I had to place a bet, there will be a woman place-kicker or punter in the NFL before there's a woman in the MLB - or even in the Minors.

Most girls are funneled into softball at an early age, and while the games are similar, the differences are enough to ruin the development of game fundamentals for hardball. There are women who can toss a =softball= at =over= a hundred miles an hour for a strike. Arm strength isn't the issue. The issue is the wind up, delivery and location control techniques of fast-pitch are alien to baseball. Batters, base-runners and fielders at every position have their playing instincts honed for exactly the wrong set of factors.

When it comes to athletic ability, of being able to get the human body to play the game at the highest level, you better believe there are women out there who are more than capable. The mental conditioning is what's missing, or worse, damaged beyond repair by playing a similar-but-different game since childhood. Cricketers don't make it in the Bigs, tho they've tried, and big-league sluggers don't do well on the bowling pitch.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:40 AM on October 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


All this yak about girls/women in sports, and no one questions the place of sports in public schools, that can't seem to educate?
posted by Goofyy at 6:52 AM on October 23, 2008


True story here:

One time when I was younger around 12 we were playing a pick up game of football. I was always one of those natural running back types so I was bruising through kids all day. Then the neighborhood tomboy asks if she can play. We say sure why not. So we get back to the game. I get the hand off.... run through the first boy, then the second, and the third... I am and unstoppable train of running back fury. Then I come across her, stopped dead in my tracks. For the rest of the game I seriously think I got like 30 more yards. God I should have married that girl.....
posted by Mastercheddaar at 7:00 AM on October 23, 2008


Gods, this is like the late 70's all over again.

I missed being able to play Little League baseball by 1 year. My parents told me they would have forbidden it anyway. They saw the shit the first girls took, and weren't willing to let me go there.
posted by QIbHom at 7:28 AM on October 23, 2008


I don't have sound here at work, but is that a 14 year old on Ellen's show???

She don't look 14 to me. She looks 25.
posted by Senator at 8:51 AM on October 23, 2008


She don't look 14 to me. She looks 25.

It happens. My 11-year-old is 5'6" and very poised.
posted by msalt at 11:38 AM on October 23, 2008


mentions the real concern that the boys playing with and against her have been conditioned not to be rough with girls, as they must be with the opposing team to be effective. What happens when the offensive lineman can get behind the defensive line and can take her down but hesitates for a split second, while the defensive lineman has no qualms about taking the tackle's head off?

What happens? His team loses due to not being as good as the other team. As it should be.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:42 AM on October 23, 2008


Heh. Senator thinks the 14-year-old looks 25 to him.

This is humorous to me.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:06 PM on October 23, 2008


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