In case you haven't seen this yet, it's 9-year-old football sensation Sam Gordon, the only girl on her Utah football team. Dave Zirin raises the question: why do we assume gender segregation in sports is necessary? The historical perspective, plus the more recent rethinking of the binary nature of gender, opens new vistas.
Few 9-year-old girls are described as a “young—very young—Walter Payton.” But that’s what people are calling Sam Gordon of South Jordan, Utah. Gordon has become an Internet sensation after the spread of viral videos showing her shredding Pee Wee football defenses with a series of dynamic touchdown runs.Zirin muses: "The future of sports could be a beautiful, life-affirming safe-space or it could be an anchor on human progress." Read more here.
The footage of Gordon has been passed around breathlessly but almost as a YouTube curio, like she’s the 2012 version of the “dramatic chipmunk” or “sneezing panda”.
Her rather overwhelming awesomeness, however, raises far more interesting questions: Why do we still segregate so much of youth sports based on gender? Does the practice of doing so actually stunt female athletic potential? Would ending gender segregation foster a higher level of athletic excellence? The early women’s rights activists certainly thought so. As Elizabeth Cady Stanton wrote in a women’s issues magazine, The Lily, “We cannot say what the woman might be physically, if the girl were allowed all the freedom of the boy, in romping, swimming, climbing, playing ball.”