Let me take a second to tell you about a woman named Lauren Silberman. She was a longtime soccer player, went to MIT (aka she’s a genius) and even wrote her thesis there about sports and video games. Super cool, right?
Now she’s making history as the first woman to sign up to attend an NFL regional combine. Basically these combines are a chance for anyone to get out there and show their stuff for NFL scouts. Lauren will be trying out as a football kicker (you can check out her kicking skills by following the above link).
I’ll be honest – I don’t really watch football. I don’t totally know exactly how a football kick should look or what kickers do on the field besides kicking. But I loved listening to Lauren’s interview with NFL AM where she was really open about her desire to make a team, but also her hope to learn from other players and enjoy the experience. I think it’s awesome that she is going for it – but of course, not everyone can be happy for her.
I am actually getting super mad reading through the comments on NFL.com, so I should probably just stop. Oh, a selection of the joy that was in here to read? Well, people are totally positive this is only a publicity stunt, and even the fact that people have to “hope” that it isn’t just shows how people can’t really wrap their heads around her trying out.
Other insults are just so flimsy and it is clear that the sexism isn’t limited to football. Things like sweeping generalizations like football is a “man’s game” or that this situation is just ludicrous because there’s not a separate locker room for women. The NFL is a giant business. I think they could come up with something. Finally, I truly couldn’t believe that there were multiple comments stating that she shouldn’t try out because “women belong in the kitchen” – seriously?! What year is this?
I guess I want to specifically address people pointing out the safety concerns and also saying that she’s going to use this as an opportunity to sue the NFL if she gets hurt. I do think that sports safety is an incredibly high priority, but football has safety concerns for every single person involved. We should always be passionate about the safety of every single player, not only when it suits sexist beliefs that women aren’t strong or somehow want to cheat the organization.
Lauren isn’t just walking onto a field with no clue about what happens in football. She clearly has talent and knows about the sport and that getting tackled is a risk, so let’s just all trust her to make her own decisions. It’s patronizing for someone sitting at home to assume that they know how Lauren should keep herself safe better than she can.
Overall, the attitudes I read in those comments scare me. I don’t want us to be limiting opportunities for not just adult women, but for girls like Samantha Gordon in the future. I don’t know Lauren, but she seems like a determined woman and I bet she wants to be judged on her talents. She doesn’t strike me as someone who is hoping for preferential treatment. If anything, her trying out strikes me as someone who just wants equal treatment.
Luckily, there are some commenters in the thread who did show support for her and I’m tempted to log into my own Facebook and like every single one of them. My boyfriend actually brought this story to my attention and he thought it was really cool, so I’m glad that guys in my life are on my side about this. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for Lauren at the combine – not only because she seems great and would be thrilled to succeed, but I’ll consider it a personal win to all those people who were hating on her.
Do you watch or play football? What do you think about Lauren trying out for the NFL? What did you think about how some people responded to this news? Tell us in the comments!