AP

Girls’ football lawsuit to gauge interest in school teams

Apr 28, 2019, 9:55 AM
Female football player Sam Gordon walks the red carpet ahead of the first round at the NFL football draft, Thursday, April 25, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
(AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The question of how many girls would play football for an all-female high school team if given the chance took center stage Friday in a Utah lawsuit filed by a teenage female football star.

More than 400 girls have joined a league that 16-year-old Sam Gordon helped create, more than enough to get started in schools, lawyer Loren Washburn said. “The school district has an obligation to meet student demand,” he said.

The districts, though, argue it’s tough to gauge whether there’s enough interest around the state to create a roster of competing teams for something completely new.

“There are no other high-school girls’ tackle football teams,” said Rachel Terry, an assistant Utah attorney general.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Dustin Pead ordered the two sides to negotiate the language of a survey to measure interest. That’s a key question under Title IX, the federal law that bars sex discrimination in education programs that receive federal funds.

Football is particularly important because it’s such a beloved American sport, said father Brent Gordon, an attorney.

“If they had the ability to play football at the high school on Friday nights, with the band there and have everybody fill the stands, how do you think the perception of girls would be on that campus?” he said.

Gordon became a well-known figure after a video of the then 9-year-old girl’s dominant football skills against boys gained widespread attention online in 2012. She, her father and other girls who wanted to play football filed a lawsuit against the three districts and the Utah High School Activities Association five years later.

Gordon appeared alongside past and present NFL greats in a television ad that aired during this year’s Super Bowl. She was also honored by the NFL during Super Bowl weekend with the first ”Game Changer” award for her role in creating the girls tackle football league in Utah.

She and her father point to all-girl “powder-puff” football games that are a homecoming tradition at many high schools. The games attract more competitors than other intramural sports, and yearbook entries reflect the pride girls take in having a chance to play, Washburn said.

Those are typically limited to one game, though, and aren’t usually full-contact, so it’s unclear whether the same numbers would turn out for tackle football, said Mark Van Wagoner, a lawyer for the high school activities association.

Utah does allow girls to play on boys’ football teams, but Sam Gordon said it wouldn’t be safe for her to play against the much-larger male players. Title IX, meanwhile, has a provision for separate teams in contact sports, Washburn said.

The plaintiffs scored a victory last year when a judge allowed girls interested in playing to band together in a class-action claim.

The Canyons School District, one of the defendants in the case, said their schools support both male and female student athletes.

“There are substantial opportunities for all our student athletes to excel on the playing field,” as well as the classroom, said spokesman Jeff Haney in a statement.

Today’s Top Stories

AP

The U.S. Coast Guard ship Bernard C. Webber, leaves the coast guard base, Monday, July 19, 2021, in...
Associated Press

‘Miracle’: Missing cruise ship passenger found OK in water

The U.S. Coast Guard says a passenger who went overboard from a cruise ship in the Gulf of Mexico was rescued on Thanksgiving after likely being in the water for hours.
18 hours ago
FILE - A Montana man was sentenced to three years in prison for his role in the Capitol riot. (AP P...
The Associated Press

Montana man gets 3 years in prison for role in Capitol riot

A Montana man will spend three years in federal prison for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S Capitol.
2 days ago
Debbie, left, and Chet Barnett place flowers at a memorial outside of the Chesapeake, Va., Walmart ...
The Associated Press

Walmart shooter left ‘death note,’ bought gun day of killing

According to authorities in Virginia, the Walmart shooter bought his gun just hours prior to killing six employees.
2 days ago
Dry lakebed...
Kira Hoffelmeyer

Lawsuit looms over tiny fish in drought-stricken West

RENO, Nev. (AP) — Conservationists have notified U.S. wildlife officials that they will sue over delayed decisions related to protections for two rare fish species that are threatened by groundwater pumping in the drought-stricken West. The Center for Biological Diversity sent a formal notice of intent to sue the Fish and Wildlife Service last week […]
4 days ago
Hand-written messages cover the heart attached to the cross to honor a victim of the mass shooting ...
COLLEEN SLEVIN, THOMAS PEIPERT, JESSE BEDAYN and BRITTANY PETERSON

Colorado gay club shooting suspect held without bail

The alleged shooter facing possible hate crime charges in the fatal shooting of five people at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub was ordered held without bail in an initial court appearance Wednesday.
4 days ago
Four Dead University of Idaho...
NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS Associated Press

Coroner: Idaho students were stabbed to death in their beds

Four University of Idaho students who were found dead in a rental house Sunday were stabbed to death in their beds and likely were asleep.
9 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...
Sorenson

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
Young woman receiving laser treatment...
Form Derm Spa

How facial plastic surgery and skincare are joining forces

Facial plastic surgery is not only about looking good but about feeling good too. The medical team at Form Spa are trained to help you reach your aesthetic outcomes through surgery and through skincare and dermatology, too.
Girls’ football lawsuit to gauge interest in school teams