Alise Scaggs and Alexis Ervin are all grit on the gridiron. Yes, girls--- on the gridiron. They play in part of an all-girl tackle football league.
Alise loves the sport, explaining, “When I score a touchdown, it’s probably one of the most exciting feelings I've ever experienced.” Alexis says, “This is aggressive and I like the contact.”
They aren’t alone.
Nearly two thousand girls now play on formerly all-boys high school teams. There’s a girls’ flag football team managed by USA Football, and girls tackle leagues are popping up around the country.
Chad Oldham helped launch one league when his daughter asked to play. He says it’s about time girls have the option. “To be honest with you, I don’t know why it’s been so long for girls to play tackle football.” He says they enjoy the sport just as much, and even more, than the boys do.
While there are no studies specifically on girls playing football, one nationwide study of nine high school sports found that, overall, a significantly higher proportion of concussions was seen for girls versus boys.
Oldham says his coaches are all certified in the Headsup Concussion Prevention Program.
His league has adjusted the game to protect the players and make fun the priority, saying, “We basically eliminated all the high impact plays. The field isn't the same size as what the boys play on; they play on a smaller field to reduce higher impacts.”
Parents of players in Chad’s league take some comfort that their daughters are tackling other girls, but they never forget that risk is part of the game. Andrea Hollingshead is a mom to more than one football-playing girl. She says, “With any sport you're going to have some sort of risk involved. So, I'm beyond the mom that scared on the sidelines.”
Alise loves the game and thinks it’s great that females are taking to some tackle time. “I think every girl should have the opportunity to play.”