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February 02, 2005



I have always strongly disliked the fact that women are generally discouraged from engaging in rough contact sports such as football. I am not aware of any good reason why women can't play tackle football (or play ice hockey and lacrosse in the same way men do) -- except that it offends people's sensibilities to see women behaving with aggressive/rough and tumble/ "masculine" physicality.

What effect would a widespread acceptance of women's participation in football have on football's current cult of masculinity? Would certain types of men have to find new and more exaggerated ways to distinguish themselves from women? Or would women's participation temper the more sexist/misogynist aspects of football culture?

Hugo Schwyzer

It's a good question. We've seen some success with small women's football leagues, and there are many well-documented cases of girls playing high school ball alongside boys.

I'd be delighted to see the formation of girls' football teams at the high school and college levels. (With equal funding, of course!) What impact it would have on the boys who play football is hard to gauge. The NBA, of course, has not been noticeably affected one way or another by the WNBA...


That's true-- I hadn't thought about the WNBA.

I have just learned the rules of football and am going to try to watch the Superbowl without falling asleep. It looks like a fun game to play (the injuries and violence of it notwithstanding) but watching it without falling asleep takes all my concentration (and I live in Patriots country!)


What an amazing coach and what insight he carries into growing young men. Thanks for this post.


I think you're going way too easy on football, as far as feminist ideals go. Why are there no professional female football players? Many women athletes could play at least some of the positions without any negative impact on the excitement of the game, or without greater danger of injury. Why doesn't it happen? Because of the culture of football, which you're suggesting be changed--but I notice you're not suggesting it be changed to allow girls and women to play. Even in the midst of talking about how football must/can change to help boys become men, you don't address the fact that it could help girls become women (except that you mention in the comments that experiments have been tried with high school girls playing football along high school boys).

That's not to say that boys and men should never have some gender-specific environments in which to hang--but why should football be one of them?


The Women's Sports Foundation (of whom I am a supporter) is committed to full equality in terms of funding and opportunity for women in sports.  But they recognize that physical differences mean relatively few women will ever get to play football with the guys at an elite level, even if allowed to.  Thus, the energy of most women's sports supporters is increasing funding and opportunity for women-only activities.  The focus is parity of funding, not the end of separate sports for men and women.

I'm a huge soccer fan.  Men and women, at an elite level, play the game slightly differently.  Men's and women's soccer are different games in terms of their pace and rhythm -- and that makes it interesting.  (You notice this especially on set pieces, like corner kicks).  The same is true for women's hoops, where the emphasis is much more on passing than on "dunking". 

Separate but equal = a bad idea for race, but a good idea for sports funding.


I understand that separate but equal might need to apply across the board here because of funding decisions--that still doesn't change the fact that MANY women could be, say, the kicker on a professional football team. Or the quarterback. They may not make it as linespersons, simply because of physical mass (or fewer of them), but why aren't they encouraged to do the things that they CAN do equally (and what women can do equally in sports is still a matter of debate--your certainty on the matter notwithstanding).

My point is this: Even if one believes that most women can't playfootball on an 'elite' level with men (which I don't really concede), why aren't there channels for the women who could, and can? And the fact that there aren't such channels is sexist, isn't it?


dood, YOU are a "men's movement activist"?

since when? i've been involved in the movement for many years, and i've never heard of you . . .

and a "feminist men's movement" is dubble oxymoronic

about as abominable as female altar girls at catholic masses, or female lectors in st. michael's church!

[btw, last i heard all the churches belonged to god, not gofer "angels"]

as for the Coach, if he thinks that masculinity is "all about relationships," he's been spending too much time watching Dr. Pill on p.m. teevee and not enough running patterns over the middle in heavy traffic (on Astroturf!)

"false masculinity" is most certainly the rot at the spiritual and cultural core of modern Western civilization, tho . . . you boys are right about that

but you aren't a "men's activist," brother Hugo . . . no indeed, you've got a LONG way to go mon frer

it don't come easy

as point in your favor, however: you are certainly prolific! especially when it comes to Yourself!


it doesn't do much good to be a great Hustler, Hugo, if you are running in precisely the Rong Direction

lose the Woman-worship, eh?

after all, what WOULD st. michael think?!


Gender Studies Group

Do you know how the Chicago Bears team of 1985-86 has anything to do with the men's Movements and if so what movement?PLease let us know soon! we have a report!!! thanks!!!!


I used to play pickup games of hockey and there were both men and women on the teams. Fine with me.

The first step is to tear down what Ehrmann says are the standard criteria—athletic ability, sexual conquest and economic success—that are constantly held up in our culture as measurements of manhood.

But there is a flaw to this. Most women are attracted to men who have athletic ability, who are sexually vital, and who are economically succesful. For example, women would have to be willing to give up the dream of being supported by men, or marrying a wealthy guy. Now, where is the program to raise female consciousness about this?

The problem is that women are (generally) genetically attracted to the Alpha Male types, characterized by athletic ability, sexual conquest and economic success. Just as men are (generally) attracted to genetic factors indicating female fecundity.

This is a much more fundamental issue than simply "educating" people.


"For example, women would have to be willing to give up the dream of being supported by men, or marrying a wealthy guy. Now, where is the program to raise female consciousness about this?"

Well, it's at Pasadena City College in room 364 of the C building on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:50-10:10AM. And countless other feminist classrooms.

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