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Girls Hit the Gridiron in Their Own Tackle Football League

The Short of It

In recent years, there's been heightened awareness of concussions due to tackle football injuries, which is why you might be surprised to learn that the sport is opening up to a bigger demographic—girls.

The Lowdown

Last Saturday in West Jordan, Utah, 50 fifth- and sixth-grade girls participated in their first scrimmage. The Utah Girls Tackle Football League is the first of its kind just for girls.

Brent Gordon, dad of 12-year-old daughter and football sensation Sam Gordon, helped spearhead the league after hearing a lot of interest from local girls.

"I thought, 'Let's do one division, 50 girls. Let's see what happens,'" Brent told Yahoo Sports. "By the time we got the website up, we only had five days to promote it, and it still filled up in that time frame."

The league is focusing on safety, practicing only "heads-up" hitting and has special equipment made to better fit and protect girls' bodies. Some parents like the idea of girls playing against other girls, instead of on co-ed teams, because as they get older, they'll be on a more level playing field physically.

"There's no difference between girls playing and boys playing, and I feel strongly about that," says Sam Rapoport, the director of development for USA Football. "There's the same risk. No sport is without risk."

But some are concerned about those risks. One study suggests girls have a higher concussion risk than boys do, and another says a girl may have a longer and more difficult recovery from a concussion than a boy would because of anatomical differences.

The Upshot

Considering that football is the No. 1 sport in the United States, I'm not surprised there was so much interest from girls. And any scenario where girls are given equal opportunities as boys is a positive in my book. As long as kids and parents are weighing the risks, following safety guidelines and enjoying the sport, I don't see the harm in it.

But I'm a worrywart, so I've already told my older son, who's in kindergarten, I probably wouldn't let him or his brother play tackle football because of the injury risks. If I had a daughter, I would tell her the same thing.

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