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Gender stigma plays a role in sports

Football is one of the sports that is seen as only played by males.

Adriana Kurtovich

Football is one of the sports that is seen as only played by males.

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Today’s society often portrays men as more superior in sports compared to women. However, this is not always the case.

The number of female athletes at NCAA schools has increased from about 30,000 to over 193,000 since 1972, but women still have many fewer participation opportunities than men do according to the Women’s Sports Foundation.

Technically, there is no law that states a woman cannot play football. People may think that only men play football because that’s what is shown on television, however, this is not the case.

Samantha Blucher is a sophomore at Carlmont and was a kicker for the JV football team this past season. Her coaches did not cut her any slack because she is a girl.

“Any workout or running activity the boys had to do, I had to do,” Blucher said.

Even with the stereotype that women can’t play football, a very real barrier of injuries still exists. A player can easily become hurt during practice or at games because of the direct contact, particularly if a 140-pound woman is faced against a 200-pound man. Some possible injuries include fractures, sprains, and especially concussions.

In 2007, more than 920,000 athletes under the age of 18 were treated in emergency rooms and clinics for football-related injuries according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

“I would play football but I [don’t] have time and I would be worried about injury risk for soccer,” said Chiara Rigatuso, a sophomore who plays for Carlmont’s varsity soccer team.

Many people assume only females are cheerleaders as well. Anyone who wants to cheer can sign up and become a cheerleader. They are only required to be able to learn skills in dancing, some basic tumbling, and cheering in front of Carlmont crowds.

People might be discouraged from trying out for the cheer team because of the costs associated with it. Based on the national average, Omni Cheer states the cost for one year of high school cheer for a new member is between $700 and $1000. This includes registration, the uniform, performance and game accessories, tumbling classes, cheer photos, and summer camp.

When asked about trying out for the cheer team, sophomore Harrison De Voy said, “I would not do that because even if I wanted to, it’s too expensive.”

Because of the stereotype that males only play football and females only cheer, many people get scared to do something out of the ordinary.

“I was super nervous and uncomfortable because I felt like all the boys were going to judge me,” said Blucher.

On Aug. 30, 2001, college sophomore Ashley Martin became the first woman to play and score in a Division 1 football game. Martin was the kicker for Jacksonville State University and scored a total of three extra points during the game. She had kicked at her high school for two years, so she had prior knowledge and experience of the game.

In an interview with ABC News on her teammates, Martin said, “They have always been very supportive… they have become my friends and brothers.”

At least two other women have been on Division 1 football teams. Kathy Klop was on the University of Louisville team in 1995 and Katie Hnida was on the Colorado University team in 1999, but neither woman played. The only other woman to previously score in a college football games was Liz Heaston who kicked two extra points in 1997 for Willamette University.

Simon Tara, a sophomore and previous member of the Carlmont JV football team, explains how Blucher was a team player and how she helped make the team better.

“I think she was a great contribution to the team because we lacked special teams capabilities,” said Tara.

The Women’s Sports Foundation was founded in 1974. It is an organization that supports female athletes. They provide grants and scholarships, popular programs for girls provided with inadequate service, and groundbreaking research.

Mother Jones News Organization states that girls’ athletic opportunities still have not reached the level that boys were at back when Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 passed. It is a federal law that states: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

Title IX ensures equal access to both men and women in educational programs and activities that are funded.

Even though some people think only males play football and only females cheer, people have the opportunities to do whatever they want. It’s up to them if they take the big step and choose to do what they love.

Tara said, “I think other girls should try out for the football team because they should follow their passion and shouldn’t be discouraged by others’ opinions.”

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The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.
Gender stigma plays a role in sports