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Catholic Youth Organization bans girl, 11, from playing football … Sam Gordon jumps to her defense (video)

Jan 8, 2013, 9:00 AM EDT


Caroline Pla, 11, is one of the best players on her Doylestown, PA, CYO (Catholic Youth Organization) tackle football team, but she’s been told that she can’t come back and play next year. Why? Because boys and girls must be separated at all times! (Nun thwacks your wrist with a ruler).

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia, which oversees the league, has a rule that girls can’t play football with boys. Can of worms, you have been officially pried open.

“I felt that they thought I wasn’t good enough. It was discrimination, it just didn’t feel good to think you’re not good enough to play with them,” Caroline told FOX 29.

George Pla, Caroline’s father said she was angry, “and didn’t understand the unfairness of it.”

George Pla has started a campaign to get the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to change its rule and allow girls to play. And the effort is gaining traction, including support from another rather noteworthy girl’s player.

Remember Sam Gordon, the nine-year-old girl from Utah who dominated all the boys in her youth football league this past season? Sam, who has been on talk shows such as Good Morning America and was invited to the Super Bowl as a guest of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, jumped to Caroline’s defense on the latter’s petition page. Sam Gordon writes:

Samantha “Sam” Gordon SOUTH JORDAN, UT

I am a nine year old girl and play tackle football with boys. I play football because it is fun and it is good exercise. I was the smallest player in the league and did not get hurt even though I played almost every down. Caroline should be allowed to play.

The Bucks Co., PA, CYO released a statement on the matter saying basically that, silly girls, football is for boys.

“There are policies in place governing CYO sports. CYO football is a full contact sport designated for boys. There has been some perceived ambiguity in the policy regarding this point. It is currently being reviewed and will be addressed moving forward to provide complete clarity.” signed Kenneth A. Gavin, Associate Director of Communications.

Caroline’s father responds:

“Our first approach is really a plea for common sense — the rule is old, it’s archaic, it’s proven that girls can play sports,” Pla told FOX 29.

Video here.

But here’s my favorite part of the story: apparently the young girls in Doylestown think of Caroline a as role model, and look up to her so much that many of them dressed as her, in football jerseys, for Halloween.

Coach Jim Reichwein, calls Caroline a remarkable player and inspiration to everyone around her. “If you can tackle, if you can block, if you can run, it has nothing to do with whether you are a girl, or a boy, or live in a mansion or are homeless or the color of your skin, football the game figures it out.”

But more than love of the game Caroline says she will miss being a part of the group. “My favorite thing was probably all the friends that I made through it and they are all like my brothers now and that’s the best part.”

No, the Catholic religion does not have the best record on gender equality issues. And that’s what makes this particular case about a little bit more than just a girl wanting to play football with the boys. Perhaps the publicity from this could help lead to bigger changes.