The 14-Year-Old Founder Of A Girls Football League Delivers One Powerful Speech

You may remember her viral video from about five years ago.

Photo via SNF on NBC/Twitter.

When she was just 9 years old, Samantha (“Sam”) Gordon became a viral sports sensation thanks to a video highlight reel showing the young football player running circles around her opponents while playing on an all-boys football team.

Gordon and her father were able to parlay her fame into television appearances and even a Wheaties box cover, but it’s the slow and steady work she’s been doing since her debut that has continued to drive the discussion about equality in youth sports.

Now, five years later, Gordon has been recognized by the NFL as the recipient of its inaugural Game Changer Award during the NFL Honors ceremony on the night before Super Bowl LII.

Here’s the highlight video demonstrating Gordon’s impressive talents that captured the world’s attention.

Now she’s back in the public eye thanks to the NFL’s honor, but during the time in between, Sam and her father, Brent Gordon, have been working tirelessly to ensure that Sam and any other girl with the desire to play football can do so. In June 2017, Brent, a lawyer, filed a Title IX lawsuit against three local Salt Lake County school districts to effect change and create opportunities for the half of the student-athlete population that has been marginalized by institutional gender discrimination. ​The suit states that the disproportionate number of girls playing high school sports could be resolved by the addition of all-girls tackle football programs in the schools.

The lawsuit came just three years after Sam and her father created the Utah Girls Tackle Football League, a recreation club for girls interested in playing tackle football. According to the Deseret News, the league doubled in size in its second year, and its success has served as the catalyst for similar programs elsewhere in the United States and Canada.

Sam used her acceptance speech to share her motivation and struggle over the past five years, reminding viewers that girls are entitled to play any sport that boys are.

She stated to the world from the NFL stage:

“Before Title IX, some people thought that girls weren’t interested in playing sports but they were wrong. They were just as wrong as people who argued that women did not want to vote, to hold public office or to be lawyers or doctors. People who think girls don’t want to play football are wrong too.”

According to the NFL, the Game Changer Award was introduced to “celebrate those who are committed to moving the game forward.”

Sam Gordon may not be a household name (yet), but it’s clear she fits that description to a tee. Hopefully, the NFL will serve to do more than simply bestow an award upon her. The league’s assistance in Sam’s cause could create a world of difference for thousands, or even millions, of young girls who, until now, have never felt that they have a place in organized football.

The demand is there, Sam assured the audience on Saturday.

“I want to let you in on a little secret: Girls love football,” she shared. No one would know better than her.


This article was produced in partnership with the United Nations to launch the biggest-ever global conversation on the role of cooperation in building the future we want.

When half of the world's population doesn't share the same opportunity or rights as the other half, the whole world suffers. Like a bird whose wings require equal strength to fly, humanity will never soar to its full potential until we achieve gender equality.

That's why the United Nations made one of its Sustainable Development Goals to "Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls." That goal includes providing women and girls equal access to education and health care, as well as addressing gender-based discrimination and violence against women and girls.

While there is still much work to be done, history shows us that we are capable of making big leaps forward on this issue. Check out some of the milestones humanity has already reached on the path to true equality.

Historic Leaps Toward Gender Equality

1848 The Seneca Falls Convention in New York, organized by Elizabeth Lady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, is the first U.S. women's convention to discuss the oppression of women in sociopolitical, economic, and religious life.

1893 New Zealand becomes the first self-governing nation to grant national voting rights to women.

1903 Marie Curie becomes the first woman to win a Nobel Prize. She is also the only woman to win multiple Nobel Prizes, for Physics in 1903 and Chemistry in 1911.

1920 The 19th Amendment is passed in the U.S. giving women the right to vote in all 50 U.S. states.

1973 The U.S. Open becomes the first major sports tournament of its kind to offer equal pay to women, after tennis star Billie Jean King threatened to boycott.

1975 The first World Conference on Women is held in Mexico, where a 10-year World Plan of Action for the Advancement of Women is formed. The first International Women's Day is commemorated by the UN in the same year.

1979 The UN General Assembly adopts the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), also known as the "Women's Bill of Rights." It is the most comprehensive international document protecting the rights of women, and the second most ratified UN human rights treaty after the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

1980 Vigdis Finnbogadottir of Iceland becomes the first woman to be elected head of state in a national election.

1993 The UN General Assembly adopts the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, the first international instrument to explicitly define forms of violence against women and lay out a framework for global action.

2010 The UN General Assembly creates the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) to speed progress on meeting the needs of women and girls around the world.

2018 The UN and European Union join forces on the Spotlight Initiative, a global, multi-year initiative focused on eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls.

As the UN celebrates its 75th anniversary, it is redoubling its commitment to reach all 17 Sustainable Development Goals, including gender equality. But it will take action and effort from everyone to ensure that women and girls are free from discrimination and violence. Learn more about what is being done to address gender equality and see how you can get involved here.

And join the global conversation about the role of international cooperation in building the future by taking the UN75 survey here.

Let's make sure we all have a say in the future we want to see.

via WFMZ / YouTube

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