On a 2013 episode of ESPN’s “First Take,” co-host Stephen A. Smith expressed his strong beliefs that “little girls” do not belong on a football field alongside boys. The topic was approached after the football highlight video of 9-year-old Samantha “Sam” Gordon went viral on social media. Smith argued that by allowing little girls onto the football field we are promoting violence against women.
“If you are a little boy who can knock her silly because she’s on the football field in pads and a helmet, what’s going to stop you as a teenager when you are off the football field and you feel the inclination to put your hands on a lady” – Stephen A. Smith
Smith seems to be suggesting that male football players do not have the mental capacity to distinguish between physical altercation during the game, and physical altercation outside the game.
Studies have shown that women’s participation in sport is linked to lower prevalence of intimate partner violence victimization. So, if playing football might actually help prevent her from being a victim of abuse, why should Sam Gordon stop?
Stephen A. Smith fails to realize that violence against women actually has very little to do with women themselves, but rather the hyper-masculine gender norms that boys are constantly trying to fit into. If in sports little boys are constantly being taught to be aggressive and dominating, the problem may be with the game of football itself, not Sam’s participation in it.
Perhaps it would be better to encourage more little girls to participate in football. Maybe then little boys would learn to respect women like they respect their teammates.
Featured image: Sam Gordon