Keeping Score: Bianca Garza, varsity football player


The Mercury News published a piece that has been working its way around all of the women’s sports blogs this week. The story is about Bianca Garza, a girl on the varsity football team at San Jose’s Andrew Hill High School.

Girls playing football is not such a rare thing: there are around 1,000 girls on high school teams in the United States this year. What’s unique is that Garza, who stands at 5′ 5″, plays on the defensive line.

Check out the video:

What’s most interesting to me about the article are the kind of sexist quotes from Garza’s coach. For example, “Some girls come out for football to draw attention to themselves, but Bianca’s not like that at all.”

I wonder how he makes the distinction between the girls who want to play for attention and the ones who want to play because they love the game? Also, every male quarterback or point guard that I have ever known — or dated, for that matter — played sports because they liked the attention.

Here’s the other quote from the coach: “Sometimes I’ll slip up and say something I shouldn’t say in front of a girl, but she’ll just say, ‘It’s OK, coach. I’ve heard that before.’ “

Stuff he shouldn’t say in front of a girl? If cussing is a man thing, someone better tell my grandmother. She’ll out-swear any football coach, any day, any time.

Despite those ignorant sound bites from the coach, the article is inspiring. Garza joined the team to keep from joining a gang. When she enrolled in her current school, her counselor enlisted her in a program to help her stay off the street. She said now she can have something to hit without getting in trouble.

“She made me see how gangs can change a person,” Bianca said. “Now I realize how stupid it is to fight over race, or watch someone be killed over a color they are wearing.”

There has always been a weird stigma around women who play football. Either players/coaches/media don’t respect the girl’s ability because she’s too pretty to play a contact sport; or, players/coaches/media ignore the girl because she’s too butchy to fit in with the typical cheerleading squad.

I don’t fall into either of those categories. Take Helen Hunt‘s character in the 1983 classic Quarterback Princess, for example. I respect her athletic ability, and I would date her.

I would not, however, play a contact sport, ever. I am a coward and will cry if you frown at me too hard.

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