News broke a couple weeks ago that there’s a possible trailblazer coming up in the college football ranks. Becca Longo is the first woman ever to receive a scholarship to a division II school for football. Even more impressive is that she might have the leg to make it all the way to the big leagues. I’m all for equality and this is a novel idea. But that’s just what it is: a novelty. Be angry if you want. Send hate mail if you must. But before you do, keep reading.
Women and men are very different in some incredibly important ways. Our thought processes are different, the way we process foods and distribute fat is different, and the way our muscles work is different. At our very core, we are still the cave people that we’ve always been and our bodies know it.
Ask any credible doctor and they’ll tell you that the little lizard brain that’s always dictated our behavior still exists. It’s the part that controls fight, flight, or freeze. It controls your drive to feed or breed. And it controls how a body responds to all of that. One of the baddest players in the game, Luke Kuechly, suffered a concussion last season and as he was being carted off the field, he was crying uncontrollably. When asked why, he said he had no idea, he just couldn’t control it. His body reacted in an unexpected way, so throwing someone into that scenario is an “Enter at your own risk” situation, but that does mean risk. The risk, in this case, is much larger for women than for their male counterparts.
The game of football is rough and tumble and built to be brutal. True, the female body can take a lot of pain and withstand immeasurable trauma, but is that the same as being hit by a 250 lb linebacker running at full speed and hell bent on taking your head off? It’s certainly not. Kickers get brutalized in this sport enough to cause concern. A clip of Richard Sherman plowing through a kicker provides some insight.
This isn’t to say that women aren’t built for sport, we certainly are. The LFL is incredibly popular and demonstrates just how talented female football players can be. But playing with fellow women who are similar in body size, shape and skill is a whole different world from the hard knocks that the boys dish out. There’s no inequality about it, it’s a matter of simple anatomy. It would be irresponsible to let someone who is physically outmatched by everyone on the field to play a sport that causes CTE in a huge percentage of its players. The NFL will hopefully consider that before making this kind of a decision. That young woman’s life is on a path right now that can take her far in life. But a career in one of the most brutal games on the planet does her no favors, and what’s more, it does the fans no good to root for someone that’s so inspiring, only to watch her fall to a cheap shot or just an extraordinarily large hit, which are so common in the game of football. Just ask Ricardo Lockette.
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