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Coach Brad
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This is something I've thought about for awhile. 

 

The game of football has progressed in a lot of ways in recent years, particularly in the way of safety, which was much needed. However it still has the perception and reputation of a "boys sport". There is no reason for this to be the case. As we see registration and team numbers dwindle across the board it only seems logical to make more of an effort to reach out to the 50% of the population that has largely been ignored.

 

I seriously hope this very concept receives zero pushback, but some trains of thought do die hard. 

 

Every girl I've ever had has been awesome. More often than not linemen, as they're often bigger and stronger than their male counterparts. There really is no downside to encouraging more girls to take up the sport. Only upside for them, the teams and orgs they join, and the game as a whole.

 

Not only that, in the era of trsnsgender acceptance we have a chance to set ourselves apart from other sports as being truly inclusive, since all other sports divide themselves by gender, just leaving the door open for messiness when it comes to determining that sort of thing.

 

Have you, your club or your league found any success in any specific strategies to increase participation from this demographic? I'd love to hear what you've tried and what has worked.


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CoachDP
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Posted by: @coachbradfromcanada

This is something I've thought about for awhile. 

 

The game of football has progressed in a lot of ways in recent years, particularly in the way of safety, which was much needed. However it still has the perception and reputation of a "boys sport". There is no reason for this to be the case. As we see registration and team numbers dwindle across the board it only seems logical to make more of an effort to reach out to the 50% of the population that has largely been ignored.

 

I seriously hope this very concept receives zero pushback, but some trains of thought do die hard. 

 

Every girl I've ever had has been awesome. More often than not linemen, as they're often bigger and stronger than their male counterparts. There really is no downside to encouraging more girls to take up the sport. Only upside for them, the teams and orgs they join, and the game as a whole.

 

Not only that, in the era of trsnsgender acceptance we have a chance to set ourselves apart from other sports as being truly inclusive, since all other sports divide themselves by gender, just leaving the door open for messiness when it comes to determining that sort of thing.

 

Have you, your club or your league found any success in any specific strategies to increase participation from this demographic? I'd love to hear what you've tried and what has worked.

Inclusivity is great.  But you mention seeing "team numbers dwindle across the board" for reaching out to girls.  I have no issue with adding girls to the program, but the fact is that you can't build an org (or keep one afloat) by reaching out to a contingent that's as rare as hen's teeth.  There are few enough girls who have the ability to do this.  And then there's the fewer who even want to.  If you added one girl to every team, that's great for inclusiveness, but it won't move the needle in terms of numbers.  In my 31 seasons, I've coached three girls; two at youth and one in middle school.  They were all more than capable.  

--Dave

This post was modified 2 months ago 3 times by CoachDP

"The Greater the Teacher, the More Powerful the Player."

The Mission Statement: "I want to show any young man that he is far tougher than he thinks, that he can accomplish more than what he dreamed and that his work ethic will take him wherever he wants to go."

#BattleReady newhope


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Coach Brad
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"there's few that have the ability"

 

With all due respect i couldn't disagree more. I say this with 100% confidence, girls are just as capable of playing the game as boys. We find a spot for the weakest and least athletic boys on the field. Why would girls be any different?

 

Also, how do you know they don't want to? This is exactly the problem. Have they been given the opportunity to or been encouraged to? Not from what I've seen. But I want to encourage it, and am hoping someone has had success doing so.


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KFMagee
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I’m not in favor of adding girls to the tackle program or rosters.  There may be a VERY exceptional few girls, who can go head to head with a 175lb 6th grade boy who know what he’s doing… and frankly, most boys would be hesitant to slam full force into a girl the way we train them.

Respectfully, the argument that we find places for weaker boys would just become more precarious also trying to wedge 2-3 weker girls on the team too.  I don’t think Flag Football is nearly as problematic… but tackle?  No thanks.

Football Director at PSAPlano.org), the largest Youth Organization in Texas
Head Coach - Plano Colts


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gumby_in_co
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I coached one girl. In 2nd grade, she was tough as nails and yes, bigger and stronger than the boys. She sat out 4th grade for COVID, then came back for 5th. She lasted 2 weeks. She had grown into a pretty young lady and was no longer into the rough and tumble that was football. Dad didn't want the dream to die and pressured her hard to keep playing. Apparently, every day at 5pm was a knock down, drag out fight to get her to practice. Eventually, she missed so much practice that I told her dad that she would not be allowed to practice until the 3 of us had a face to face talk. That was the last contact I had with them.

I'm sure some girls love the game enough to try and play it into high school. I hear about a few here and there.  If a girl joined my team, I would coach her to the best of my ability and make sure she was a part of our family. However, there are 2 things that I can't get around. First, there is no way I'd let a girl be a center or a QB. I went through those mental gymnastics and there really was only one conclusion. Second, the clock is going to run out for any girl. By 8th grade, she simply will not be able to compete with the boys. 

One Spring, Mahonz and I coached a Spring team mostly consisting of older/lighter 9th graders playing in an 8th grade league. Totally allowed under the rules. A dad came to us looking for a team for his daughter. Mahonz told the dad that we'd be happy to take her and she'd learn the game and have the support of coaches and players. The catch was that Dad wanted his daughter to be the QB. He assured us that she was an outstanding QB in flag. Mahonz told him that we would give her the opportunity to compete for the position, but that she had to earn it. If she was the best QB on the team, then she would play QB. Also, Mahonz told him that it would be extremely rare for a first year player to be a QB in tackle football. It would be far more likely that she'd play WR. This young lady and her dad had set the goal that she would play QB at one of the 2 top football schools in Colorado, one of which the McAffrey brothers went to. Anyway, dad kept shopping and found a team where the coached promised to let her play QB.  

It was the yellow team in this video:

This is the brick wall that girls will eventually run into if they continue to play football with the boys. It's not about being inclusive, or pronouns, or being woke. It's about biology and physics. For what it's worth, the young lady wasn't a terrible QB. In a league where most teams have at least one player over 250 and a dozen over 200, there's not a lot of room for a 5'4, 110lb QB.

When in doot . . . glass and oot.


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CoachDP
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At my last high school, the enrollment there is 2,071 students.  The sport with the highest female participation numbers is soccer. There are 20 girls on the Varsity and 18 on the JV.  That's 38 girls total or 0.01834862% of the student body.  Or, we can re-do the math and compare the numbers by dividing the 38 girls from the approximately 1,035 other girls in the school to find that 3.6% of the girls there that participate.  And those numbers are for a sport that's designed for girls.  If we compare that to football, there were approximately 100 boys that participated in Varsity/JV combined.  That's 4.8% of the student body, or 9.6% of the boys at the school.  So if there are few girls who even want to participate in a sport where they have a girl's team (soccer), what's the reality of them wanting to play a more physical sport and compete against boys?

Simply put, most girls don't have any interest in participating in sports.  Fewer still would have an interest in participating in a sport that is populated by boys, or considered to be a boys-only sport.  There's not only the physical aspect and challenges of the game, but the sociological dynamic, as well.  If there were a demand for girls to play football, Title IX would see to it that it's offered.  Especially in this day and age.

The three girls that I've coached were all uniquely confident young women.  2 of them had a football-mentality that we would like to see in any football player.  The third was "giving it a try" because her younger (and smaller) brother was also on the team.  All three did better than we had hoped, were contributors and I think gained a great deal of self-confidence in being able to hold their own in a physical boys sport.

I think it's great that you want to be inclusive.  And while some may argue that there's no place for girls in football, I'm all for it if they are willing to fight and compete.  But most boys aren't.  And even fewer girls are.  By all means, keep the door open.  But if you think you can convince girls to come out when it's hard enough to convince boys....well, good luck.

--Dave

 

This post was modified 2 months ago 2 times by CoachDP

"The Greater the Teacher, the More Powerful the Player."

The Mission Statement: "I want to show any young man that he is far tougher than he thinks, that he can accomplish more than what he dreamed and that his work ethic will take him wherever he wants to go."

#BattleReady newhope


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KFMagee
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Dave, to your point, I don’t exclude girls by design, but I think the better investment in effort is not chasing girls to play a sport that is not native to them, but spend the effort trying to rebuild the boys interests in playing.  It all starts with getting mom to ALLOW “Junior” to play football when he shows interest early on in PeeWee league.

To that end, we need to educate parents of  the huge advances in gear over the past 15 years, and show the comparisons of serious injury playing football and other spirts. Soccer, Martial Arts, and even baseball are not any ‘safer’ than football in many aspects.  I have a CDC report that has some eye-popping numbers which tell a very different story than what the public impression thinks.  That, and the fact that coaching techniques have changed have also made a strong impact on better safety.

Most boys love football… we need to rekindle the desire to want to participate, not just watch. I’ll grab the CDC report and post it in this thread for those interested.

This post was modified 2 months ago 2 times by KFMagee

Football Director at PSAPlano.org), the largest Youth Organization in Texas
Head Coach - Plano Colts


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Bob Goodman
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Posted by: @coachbradfromcanada

"there's few that have the ability"

 

With all due respect i couldn't disagree more. I say this with 100% confidence, girls are just as capable of playing the game as boys. We find a spot for the weakest and least athletic boys on the field. Why would girls be any different?

 

Also, how do you know they don't want to? This is exactly the problem. Have they been given the opportunity to or been encouraged to? Not from what I've seen. But I want to encourage it, and am hoping someone has had success doing so.

I'd say the burden is on those who think the desire is there in the demographic to find the evidence.  I agree that a lot more girls are capable than actually turn out for football, but I also agree that few have the desire.  I'd love to see more girls play.  Seems I've coached a greater proportion of girls over my coaching time than Dave Potter has, but the percentages are so small in either case that may not be significant.

OK, so why do we all see fewer girls than boys?  I don't think the "problem" is inherent in football itself -- in the establishment, in the people who coach or officiate it, or are otherwise involved as adults -- but is either biologic or some very fundamental things in society.  Anthropologists (if I recall correctly) find considerable cross-cultural consistency in the differences between the ways boys and girls tend to play (I mean play generally, not just sports), on average, by the time they're just a few years old.  These findings favor the hypothesis that the differences are primarily genetic rather than cultural.

However, I do think we -- society generally, not the football establishment -- can get more girls to break that mold.  I'm guessing that at most, though, we might get a doubling or tripling of girl turnout for football, nothing like even with boys.  But the disparity is so great that even a doubling or tripling would be noticeable in most places over a few years.  But what we (society) need to do is a tall order: reduce the stigma against nonconformity.

People think the modern, Western world is as nonconformist as it's ever been, but I see signs that it's trending back strongly now towards conformity, especially when it comes to sex stereotyping.  Just a few years after women's liberation, we're seeing progressives adopt the bizarre belief that children and adults who, in their desires, behaviors, and other traits, don't conform to the averages for their sex are revealing they're not "really" of that sex!  I have a couple of friends whose daughter has "become their son", and who is retroactively said to always have been a boy.  Last time I checked Facebook, s/he'd started growing a beard, which means taking drugs to do so.  Very sad IMO.  Anyway, what this says is that progressives have given up on knocking down stereotypes, and are now saying the stereotypes were right to begin with -- and damn the biology, we'll fix our bodies to conform!

Of course even my desire is fraught with an obvious problem when it comes to football: Encouraging nonconformity doesn't look like it'd bode well for football practice!


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Bob Goodman
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Posted by: @gumby_in_co

I'm sure some girls love the game enough to try and play it into high school. I hear about a few here and there.  If a girl joined my team, I would coach her to the best of my ability and make sure she was a part of our family. However, there are 2 things that I can't get around. First, there is no way I'd let a girl be a center or a QB. I went through those mental gymnastics and there really was only one conclusion. Second, the clock is going to run out for any girl. By 8th grade, she simply will not be able to compete with the boys. 

But that's true for most of the boys too.  So it happens a little sooner for the girls.  There are clubs where a higher proportion of players go on to be on a HS roster, but nationwide most don't get that far.  And even if they do get that far, very few will play past HS.  People can play more years of football (and certainly get in on more plays) before HS than in HS.  Looked at this way, HS is a relatively small part of a football career.


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Coyote
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Most seasons we have 1 - 2 girls in the league.  Most drop out before or during their 1st season in 5th-6th grade.  Don't think we've had a 6th grade girl in the yrs I've been around.

Last season we drafted our 2nd girl.  The 1st one quit after getting drilled in the 2nd game.  She was ave sized and fast and could catch.  But that hit ended it for her.

This 2nd girl was there late in the draft, very athletic, very small, and her parents moved her up early (Long story).  I will say,  this past season was the 1st time I've ever had a player want to hold my hand in the huddle, and when we walked from our warm-up area to the field to play.   We drafted her largely because she was faster and more agile than the boys left of the board, and we'd have her for an extra yr due to her being moved up early, thinking we might have something special when she was a 4th grader.   She got knocked tail over apple cart several times and came up grinning.  Didn't make a single tackle, dropped both the (catchable) passes thrown to her, and not sure if she ever actually made contact with the bad-guys on a block.   But she learned a lot, got better in drills, and was fun to have on the team.   We hope we'll get a nice return on our investment when she's a 4th grader, but whether or not she becomes a good player, we like having her around. 

I'm trying to get her on the girls wrestling club, but the parents are big basketball fans.....   

FWIW

Umm.... why does that 6 ft tall 9 yr old have a goatee...?


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Bob Goodman
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Posted by: @coyote

This 2nd girl was there late in the draft,

My experience in a draft league quickly told me that if there's a girl in a late round, draft her.  You probably won't know much about the potential of the players when you get down there, except that the other coaches downgraded them, possibly because of low coachability in the tryouts, combine, or whatever you call the preliminary evaluation sessions.  However, odds are the girl will be very coachable.


Another demographic besides girls that I'd like to get more of into football is Hispanics.  We had a lot of them in the Bronx just because of local demographics (lots of Albanians too), but my general sense is that nationwide they, like girls, are under-represented in football.  They're big on baseball, and after that, soccer, so between those influences, football suffers.  No idea how to get more of them.

This post was modified 2 months ago by Bob Goodman

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CoachDP
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Posted by: @kfmagee

Dave, to your point, I don’t exclude girls by design, but I think the better investment in effort is not chasing girls to play a sport that is not native to them, but spend the effort trying to rebuild the boys interests in playing.  It all starts with getting mom to ALLOW “Junior” to play football when he shows interest early on in PeeWee league.

--Agreed.  it's hard enough just to get boys to want to play.  They have so many other options nowadays, that are so much easier.  Add to that, the cost, the time and the poor coaches that kids get saddled with...it's understandable the game is dying from a numbers standpoint.

Most boys love football… we need to rekindle the desire to want to participate, not just watch. I’ll grab the CDC report and post it in this thread for those interested.

--I don't think that most boys love football.  If that were the case, the participation numbers would not be trending downward.  When less than 10% of the boys in a high school play football, that is not indicative that "most boys love football."  I'd say that most boys who still play football, love football.  But regardless, the game needs to be a better experience for those who participate in it, and be more attractive to those that don't, so that perhaps they'll give it a try.

--Dave

 

"The Greater the Teacher, the More Powerful the Player."

The Mission Statement: "I want to show any young man that he is far tougher than he thinks, that he can accomplish more than what he dreamed and that his work ethic will take him wherever he wants to go."

#BattleReady newhope


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gumby_in_co
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Posted by: @bob-goodman

But that's true for most of the boys too.  So it happens a little sooner for the girls.  There are clubs where a higher proportion of players go on to be on a HS roster, but nationwide most don't get that far.  And even if they do get that far, very few will play past HS.  People can play more years of football (and certainly get in on more plays) before HS than in HS.  Looked at this way, HS is a relatively small part of a football career.

Agree, but the point is, if a boy has the desire to play into HS, unless he is unusually small, or a very late bloomer, there is no biological "brick wall" that a girl will experience. 

About 8 years ago, my son was playing 16U AA hockey. In one tournament, a 19U AAA women's team (still considered "youth hockey") was allowed to compete as they were the defending National Champions and expected to repeat. It was the first and only time that I recall where a girls team was allowed to play in a body checking tournament. I had coached girls hockey for 4 seasons and it was typical for a girls team to scrimmage a younger boys team, but it was always "no checking". 

In that 19U AAA team's first game, a player left with a broken collarbone, which is a fairly common injury in ice hockey.  In their second game, a second player left with a broken collarbone and the coach withdrew from the tournament, forfeiting the remaining games. In both games, the young ladies were absolutely dominated physically. The lesson for the women's team was that their grit, determination and desire could not overcome a 40+ pound muscle and testosterone disadvantage. 

When in doot . . . glass and oot.


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Bob Goodman
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I agree with Dave Potter's assessment that football is a minority taste even among boys.

Posted by: @gumby_in_co

Agree, but the point is, if a boy has the desire to play into HS, unless he is unusually small, or a very late bloomer, there is no biological "brick wall" that a girl will experience.

 OK.  But children of both sexes hit brick walls in lots of physical activities.  Check out the playground.  When's the last time you saw a teenager on the see-saw or swings?  We accept that there are plenty of fun things children do that they'll literally grow out of.

In football there'd be no such brick wall if enough girls wanted to play football.  There'd be competition specifically for them at older ages.  (There are women's teams, because the players are old enough to commute to practice in metro areas, so even with the few who want to play they can assemble teams.)  If enough adults wanted to swing on swings, there'd be adult-sized ones for them, and adult-sized teeter-totters.  There is adult size climbing equipment equivalent to monkey bars.


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gumby_in_co
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Posted by: @bob-goodman

There'd be competition specifically for them at older ages.  (There are women's teams, because the players are old enough to commute to practice in metro areas, so even with the few who want to play they can assemble teams.)  

If we're talking about girls/women's football leagues, then this is a completely different narrative. OP was talking about what could be done to get girls into football to help with declining numbers. I assumed we were talking about recruiting girls to play football with boys. To be clear, I'm not against someone else recruiting girls. I personally won't do it for the 2 reasons I mentioned above, one being that they will rarely make it through middle school.

When in doot . . . glass and oot.


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