Once you sign one change.org petition, you’re sucked into an almost daily email parade of causes, issues, and other undoings of justice that someone out there is fervently trying to resolve. On Saturday, I got one from Caroline Pla, an 11-year-old girl who has been playing football since she was in kindergarten.
With more on-the-field experience and probably more knowledge of the game than some grown men who scream from their armchairs, she’s outraged that the Philadelphia Archdiocese is barring her from the Catholic Youth league because she’s a girl. She’s well within her right to be irked, no? Because shouldn’t a gal with enough heart and physical stamina to take hits and run plays be allowed to do it?
“The idea that girls can't play football is stupid,” she writes in the intro to the petition. “I've been playing for seven years, and I've never been injured. The guys don't go easy on me, either—I've worked hard to show them that I'm just as good as they are, and I deserve to be treated the same as them.”
Amen young Caroline! And shout-out to her mama, Marycecelia, who supports her daughter’s love of the game and her right to play it, and fashioned a movement to pressure the archdiocese powers to reconsider their stance. So far, more than 74,400 supporters have signed the petition and the cause has garnered some high-profile attention—Ellen apparently covered it on her show—but will it be enough to sway the traditionalism of the Catholic church? That’s a mighty mountain to stare down.
Coincidentally, my own daughter came to me a few weeks ago and told me she wants to play ball. This isn’t the first time she’s expressed interest, but I knew I’d have a hard time getting her into one of community teams here in the D.C. area. Luckily, there’s an intramural team at her school, but female participation is still pretty scant. I’m proud of her for even wanting to do it.
If all else fails, Caroline will be allowed to rejoin the team next year, but it doesn’t seem fair to bench her and make the child wait for no reason aside from gender-fueled logistics. Put her on the field and let her shine. Girls can do more than cheer the games with pom poms and miniskirts from the sidelines. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)
Would you let your daughter play football in an all-boy league?
Image via Marycecelia Pla