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Becca Longo making history as college athlete

Tue, Apr 18th 2017 10:40 pm
Photo taken from AZCentral.com
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 Many of you who read this column every week will probably see the topic of this week's article as being inevitable. It is that for the first time ever a woman will be attending a Division II or better school on a football scholarship. Basha High School kicker Becca Longo has committed to playing for the Adams State University Grizzlies in Alamosa, Colorado and she hasn't committed only to the college's football team. Longo is also set to play basketball for the university and doesn't see her achievement as anything out of the ordinary,  according to Bleacher Report, even though it is an enormous mile marker for women in football.

While female kickers have competed at the collegiate level before Longo, she is the first to sign a letter of intent specifically for football. She might also be playing basketball as a Grizzly but it is not the sport she was recognized and awarded the scholarship for. If this doesn't seem like a big deal yet, here's another fact. Only 12 women in total have played football at the collegiate level ever. In the past the majority of female football players have been placekickers with only former college linebacker and special teams player at Monterey Peninsula and Contra Costa Junior Colleges, Joyce Mungari, and the first female to play a non-kicking position at a four-year college after signing in summer 2014 to play cornerback at Campbellsville University, an NAIA school, Shelby Osborne, intermixed.

Even though she is a kicker this does not undermine the impact of her achievement. There have only been 10 to come before her and perhaps the most progressive part of this fairy tale come true was the Adams State, Head Coach Timm Rosenbach's response to hearing about Longo's status as being the first woman to play football on a DII scholarship. He not only said that gender was something that hadn't played a role in his decision-making but that he hadn't known a woman had never achieved this before.

"I never heard of [her status as the first woman on scholarship] before," Rosenbach said, according to Bleacher Report. "I don't look at it that way. My wife is a former pro athlete. I see her as a football player who earned it."

Someone could say that the reason he didn't know this statistic existed was because women have been long disassociated with the sport besides wearing little to nothing and cheering on the sidelines. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and believe that he believes in gender equality so much so that he never looked at the sport he coaches through a patriarchal lens. The point however is that ideally more coaches of male-dominated sports will either develop or come into the field with this perspective: that no matter your gender you still have the ability to be a talented athlete in that sport.

The one belief we have yet to shake which is at the root of sexism in our society is that in general we believe that men and women are different. It has been proven that there is no difference between us in our intellectual abilities but for some reason we still think there are other biological differences between men and women such as: women instinctually being nurturing, which is false. We have not been able to make the societal switch from believing men are better at the physical, aggressive stuff and women better at the gentle, mothering side of things to the mindset that women and men can train to lift the same amount of weight, run just as fast and be just as abrasive or compassionate as one another.

Although we have a long way to go before this mindset is altered completely Longo's success is a step forward in getting there, it is proof that women are just as or even more so capable of doing everything a man can do and vice versa. There's no doubt she will be and has faced discrimination already because she has chosen a path most would deem masculine.

When you google search her name one of the very first videos that pops up is titled, "Becca Longo incredibly emotional about getting scholarship." It's an interview with ESPN so it's not surprising that of all the things Longo said in the interview or all the things she said she felt such as excitement, hope, and more, that those people at ESPN chose to summarize it all under one word, "emotional."

The stereotype of being "emotional" is one powerful women all over the world have had to face. As Hillary Clinton was giving her concession speech the broadcasters then which had deemed her cold and therefore unrelatable throughout her campaign, as they searched for a reason besides the patriarchal confines of our society to blame or her loss, as being emotional. Clinton and Longo are not the first nor the last females to be labeled under this promiscuous category. It is inspiring to see young women like Longo blatantly defy the social norms set in our society and come out successful. She may be the reason I actually begin to pay attention to football.



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