Should Caroline be allowed to play football?
The soft-spoken twin has been battling boys on the gridiron since she was 5. She's played the last two seasons in a Catholic Youth Organization league, where the 5-foot-3, 110-pound offensive tackle and defensive end made the all-star team.
But the church may put the kibosh on her Catholic youth league career. While at least a few U.S. dioceses let girls play football, and about 1,600 girls play on U.S. high school teams, the Philadelphia league is open only to boys.
"First they said it was a boys sport. Then they said it was a safety issue. I think they are just constantly looking for excuses to keep me from playing," said Caroline.
The church is now reviewing the ban, with a decision expected next month after a panel of coaches, parents and doctors weigh in.
"Traditionally, football is a boys-only sport due to its full contact nature," the church said in a statement. "Most parents and players have preferred this; some now disagree."
The Women's Sports Foundation believes there are good reasons to reverse the rule — and not just for the sake of girls.
"What the diocese is missing is all the wonderful things that come out of co-ed sports. The mutual respect that lasts a lifetime between girls and boys," said lawyer Nancy Hogshead-Makar, a 1984 Olympic gold medalist in swimming.
No matter how the church rules, Caroline could still play football next season for Pop Warner or her school team. And she has no plans to play in high school because she doesn't think she'll be big enough to play her position at that level.
"Right now, I'm one of the biggest because I've hit my growth spurt and a lot of them haven't," said Caroline, who scored her first touchdown this past season on a 15-yard run. "It's just really fun."
Critical thinking challenge: Consider the church’s objections. Are they reasonable?
- Posted on February 24, 2013
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