A traditional Catholic-backed youth football league in Pennsylvania is finding itself in the midst of a maelstrom of public controversy after it barred a female player who had participated in the association’s leagues for five years. The Catholic league’s reasoning? It has always held that tackle football was too dangerous for a girl.
As reported by CNN, ABC News and a handful of other Philadelphia and national outlets, 11-year-old Caroline Pla is a devoted football fan in the Phildaelphia area. She first began playing youth football with the Philadelphia Archiocese Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) as a 5-year-old kindergartner and never looked back.
"Not only am I not going to be able to play, but girls all over aren't going to be able to sign up. And I don't think that's fair."
Pla is right: The CYO policy isn’t fair. It’s sexist and discriminates against young girls. Yet, because the organization doesn’t receive public funding (CYO relies on donations and funding from an area’s supporting Archdiocese to support its programs), there really isn’t much that Pla and her family can do.
Of course, that doesn’t mean they haven’t tried. Pla’s mother, Seal Pla, started a change.org petition aimed at getting CYO to allow girls to play on its football teams. The Pla petition has received more than 100,000 signatures, yet the CYO organization has yet to budge.