Utah Teen Takes Fight For Sanctioned Tackle Football To Court
HERRIMAN, Utah – Sam Gordon, 17, is known to most of the world as the girl that went viral as a tackle football star and featured in an NFL commercial honoring the league’s 100th season.
Now, she’s fighting the Utah High School Athletic Association and several Utah school districts to get girls tackle football sanctioned.
It’s a case she and her father spearheaded three years ago.
Last week, the case started before a federal judge. The allegations include whether a Title IX violation and Equal Protection clause that would allow the girls to have their own team have been violated.
“Basically, we have to prove there’s interest in girls football and that these schools are at fault and not complying with Title IX, and it feels pretty obvious to me that girls are interested and there is not equal opportunity for girls in high school sports,” Gordon said.
In addition, 10 girls interviewed by one attorney in the case testified of being sexually assaulted by players.
Gordon plays on a club girls tackle team, but if she or other teenagers want to play in high schools, they are forced to join to co-ed teams, which are mostly boys.
In fact, there are only a handful of girls that have played at the high school level. In court, they argue that’s because they don’t get a true opportunity to compete and they are discriminated against.
Attorney Mark Van Wagoner, who is representing the UHSAA, said neither the districts named in the suit nor the association oppose girls tackle football. They simply said it doesn’t fit the criteria to become sanctioned.
“The association only sanctions sports that are full-grown,” Van Wagon said. ”Right now, girls tackle football does not meet the criteria that were used in every sanction the association has done.”
Closing arguments are set for next week in the case to determine whether the girls will get their sanctioned team.
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