Running like a girl

By Lindsey Woods

I am jealous of a 9-year-old.

Her name is Samantha “Sam” Gordon, and she has become the latest Internet sensation via a video her dad posted of her playing peewee football in an all-boys—well, formerly all-boys—league in Utah. The mini quarterback is distinguishable from the rest of the players in the highlight reel, not because she’s a girl, but because she’s clearly an incredible football player.

Gordon is a coach’s dream. This season she has scored 35 touchdowns, made 65 tackles and ran almost 2,000 yards, and she plays both offense and defense. She is lightning fast and knows how to break

a tackle.

Did I mention that this is just her first season? After switching from soccer to football, Gordon made the team after beating everyone in almost every agility drill during tryouts. When asked about her stellar stats, Gordon was very humble.

“It’s just fun because all the boys are like, ‘Whoa, it’s a girl,’ she said.

Needless to say, Gordon has become the tiny face of lady athletes everywhere who have been fighting for a fair chance to play sports at competitive levels. Whether she knows it or not, she has revived the conversation of whether girls should be able to play “boy’s sports” like football.

There has been talk about whether it’s irresponsible to let a fragile little girl compete with the big boys of peewee football. In the video, you can clearly see that Gordon is smaller than most of the boys she plays with. Luckily, this kind of reaction has been contained, and most who’ve viewed the video are encouraging of her. But the fact that it is still an issue makes me equally sad and infuriated.

Football is a brutal sport for anyone to play, regardless of size or gender. The end. There have been many small male quarterbacks: Drew Brees, Michael Vick and Doug Flutie, to name a few. While their stature may have been an issue, their safety never was. It should be this way for Gordon. If we’re going to have this discussion, let’s talk about size, not gender.

It is encouraging that so many people have accepted that a girl can outrun and outplay the boys, but until the conversation about gender becomes obsolete, society still has a ways to go in terms of gender inclusivity. The conversation needs to shift from X- and Y-chromosomes to the X’s and O’s of the playing field.

I will always regret that I never played football as a kid. Looking back, had I thought it was an option, it would definitely have been my sport of choice. If badasses like Gordon continue to do their thing, hopefully girls in the future will try out for the team. Football has always been a symbol of the gender inequalities in sports, but more girls like Gordon will continue to prove that running, throwing or tackling like a girl is not a bad thing.