Men dominate the sport of American Football. When you turn on an NFL game on a Sunday or a college game on Saturday, you will see men on the football field and tend to only see women on the sideline as staff and as cheerleaders. However, girls can play football, and in the United States, more women are participating in this sport than ever before.
In the past few years, there have been numerous stories of women throwing touchdowns, kicking field goals, and more in football. These accomplishments illustrate that girls can play American Football and contribute positively to a team on the field. Not only are more girls playing the game, but even more are playing an essential role in the game as a referee, trainers, coaches, and more.
Here is the complete breakdown of women in American Football.
Is There a Women’s Football League?
From 2000 to 2018, there was the Independent Women’s Football League in the United States. This league was tackle football, just like you would see in the NFL, but players did not receive payment. Players had to cover their expenses to participate in this league. Before shutting down in 2018, teams were out in California, Texas, and Oregon in the United States.
There is also the Western Women’s Canadian Football League, which began in 2011. The league has female athletes compete in a 12-player tackle game using Football Canadian rules. The season currently runs from the spring and summer, and it consists of eight teams.
Are More Girls Playing Football in High School?
According to the Operations NFL, 47 out of the 50 states in the United States saw an increase in female football player participation in 2018. When you compare that to ten years earlier, there is a noticeable rise in girls participating in high school football as players.
Holly Neher, back in 2017, threw the first FHSAA touchdown as a quarterback in a men’s high school football game. It was her third pass attempt in her football debut, and she connected with a wide receiver for a 45-yard touchdown. Before she was on the boy’s team for football, she was a member of the flag football team for her school.
Are Girls Playing Flag Football?
Some states, like Georgia, are making Flag Football part of their high school sports athletics program for female athletes. Some NFL teams are also backing these flag football programs with scholarships. The two teams to encourage High School Flag Football with scholarships include the Atlanta Falcons and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Can Girls Play in the NFL?
No American Football rule states that women can’t play in the NFL. The only requirements are that they are out of high school for three years and use their college edibility requirements before the next college football season. Otherwise, girls can play in the NFL as long as they have the physical, mental, and skill levels that teams and organizations are looking to have on their roster.
Can Women Referee NFL Games?
Sarah Thomas was the first woman to referee an NFL game in 2015. She was also the first female to officiate Super Bowl 55 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Kansas City Chiefs.
Notable Women to Play Professional Football
Patricia Palinkas was the first female to be on a professional football team. Patricia was a placekick holder for the Orlando Panthers in 1970.
In 1997, Liz Heaston scored the first points as a woman in College Football. She completed two extra points for the Willamette Bearcats team. Along with being the kicker, she was also on the soccer team for the school.
In 2007, Abby Vestal recorded three extra points for the Kansas Koyotes, the first time a female scored in a men’s professional pro football game.
In 2020, Sara Fuller was the first female to play in an NCAA Division 1 Football Game. Sara Fuller was on the Vanderbilt Commodores, part of the SEC. Not only did she make history to kickoff at the power 5 level, but she also scored an extra point field goal attempt, which was the first time that occurred.
Have Any Women Tried to Make the National Football League via Tryouts?
Lauren Silberman is the only official tryout to try and make it into the NFL as a kicker. However, her performance resulted in two kicks going 19 and 13 yards, which would not cut it for any NFL team. She later told reporters that she had an injury, which was why she couldn’t kick the ball further on the two attempts.
What Positions Do Female Athletes Tend to Play on Male Football Teams?
Women playing on men’s football teams tend to play as kickers, punters, or placeholders. Women tend to play these positions in a tackle football league because those positions receive the least amount of contact on a football field. However, there are exceptions, like Holly Neher, who became the first girl to throw a touchdown as a QB in the FHSAA.
Otherwise, women play all of the typical football positions in female-only leagues. That includes playing linebacker, running back, defensive back, quarterback, wide receiver, punter, and more.
Conclusion: Can Girls Play Football?
In summary, girls can play American Football, and more are playing on teams each year. Whether they are playing youth football or making history kicking extra points in college football, women continue to expand their reach in the game. Not only that, but there are specific women’s football leagues out in Canada, which help spotlight female athletes and their talents on the football field each season.
There are no rules that state a girl can’t play when it comes to the NFL. While there are no girl players in the NFL as of 2022, you will find plenty of female staff on the sidelines. Not only that, but women are also joining the NFL as referees, which began in 2019 with Sarah Thomas. As time goes by, expect more women to have prominent positions on a football team, and even be on the official roster.