The Utah Girls Tackle Football League Tackles Gender Norms

“We’re showing the world that we can do whatever we set our minds to.”

On numerous fields across the state of Utah this season, more than 300 young girls will gather to participate in a sport that they’ve traditionally not been allowed to play: football.

And it all started with Sam Gordon.


At just 9 years old, she caught the attention of millions of people when a 2012 video of her playing on a football team with boys went viral. She scored 35 touchdowns, rushed for 1,911 yards, and racked up 65 tackles.

Since then, Gordon has used her internet fame to speak at schools to share her story. At a middle school in 2015, she asked a group of girls a simple question: How many of you would play football if given the chance?

“Basically every girl’s hand in the audience went up,” Gordon, now 14, tells GOOD. She took it upon herself to start an all-girls football league, and with the help of her parents, the Utah Girls Tackle Football League (UGTFL) was born.

“We thought [that] if there’s this many girls in this assembly who want to play football, imagine how many there are in Utah or the entire country.” she says.

It’s estimated that close to 25,000 girls under the age of 18 play football in the U.S. However, this pales in comparison to the approximately 2.47 million boys who play. Even as girls football continues to grow, the sport still struggles to find a way to welcome in a new era of girls who long to don the signature shoulder pads and helmet.

While Gordon and her father started conceptualizing their league, youth football coach Crystal Sacco had also begun to explore developing her own girls’ league. Sacco, who’d played professional tackle football for the Utah Falconz (formerly the Utah Jynx) saw an opportunity to usher more girls into the game. They joined forces and, just two days before orientation for their new league, they had reached their goal of 50 girls registered.

Jonna Tucker was one of the first girls to sign up. “One of her dreams she wrote out when she was a little girl was that she wanted to be the first female NFL player,” her mother, Dawn, says.

So when Dawn received an email from UGTFL, she immediately sprang into action. “I received the email at 6:30 a.m. and had her signed up by 6:35,” she says, laughing.

Photo courtesy of the Utah Girls Tackle Football League.

Before Jonna joined the league, though, her mother was not always the biggest fan of youth sports. “I used to consider playing sports as a nuisance, something that took up too much time,” Dawn says.

As she’s watched her daughter excel on the field, Dawn’s perspective has changed, giving her a new appreciation for what sports can do off the field. Holding back tears, Dawn tells GOOD that football has brought her and Jonna closer together: “I have found a new connection with my daughter because I have been able to respect her passion instead of looking at it as a detriment.”

Beyond parental relationships evolving through the sport, Coach Sacco has seen a powerful transformation take place with the girls who have joined the league. “Of course, they all make friends, and they also get to legally channel some of their aggression,” she says with a laugh.

But it also offers girls who may not feel comfortable in sports like gymnastics or swimming to find comfort in a helmet and pads. “I’ve had girls tell me they feel more secure and confident in a football uniform than in other sports attire,” Sacco notes.

For Jonna, joining the league has been empowering. It’s offered her an opportunity to join a movement that helps break stereotypes girls often face playing football — and in life in general.

“It has probably been one of the best experiences I’ve ever had,” Jonna says. “I think this girls team shows that girls aren’t too weak to play football, and we’re showing the world that we can do whatever we set our minds to.”

Sports
via Smithfly.com

"Seventy percent of the Earth is covered with water, now you camp on it!" proudly declares Smithfly on the website for its new camping boat — the Shoal Tent.

Why have we waited so long for camping equipment that actually lets us sleep on the water? Because it's an awful idea, that's why.

"The world is your waterbed," Smithfly says on its site. But the big difference is that no one has ever had to worry about falling asleep and then drowning on their waterbed.

RELATED: A ridiculous dad transformed Billie Eilish's 'Bad Guy' into a 3-minute long musical dad joke

While it is possible that one could wade into the water, unzip the tent, have a pleasant slumber, and wake up in the morning feeling safe and refreshed, there are countless things that could go terribly wrong.

The tent could float down the river and you wake up in the middle of nowhere.

You could have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

This guy.

It could spring a leak and you could drown while wrapped up in eight feet of heavy nylon.

A strong current could tip the tent-boat over.

There isn't any way to steer the darn thing.

This guy.

Mashable shared a charming video of the tent on Twitter and it was greeted with a chorus of people sharing the many ways one could die while staying the night in the Shoal Tent.

Oh yeah, it's expensive, too.

Even though the general public seems to think the Shoal Tent is a terrible idea, according to the Smithfly's website, it's currently sold out due to "popular demand" and it will be "available in 6-8 weeks." Oh, and did we mention it costs $1,999?

Lifestyle
via zoezimmm / Imgur

There are few more perniciously dangerous conspiracy theories being shared online than the idea that vaccines cause autism.

This has led to a decline in Americans vaccinating their children, resulting in a massive increase in measles. This year has already seen over 1,200 cases of measles, a disease that was eradicated in the U.S. nearly 20 years ago.

A 2015 Pew Research study found that 83% of Americans think the measles vaccine is safe, while 9% think it's not. Another 7% are not sure. But when you look at the polls that include parents of minors, the numbers get worse, 13% believe that the measles vaccine is unsafe.

There is zero truth to the idea that vaccines cause autism. In fact, a recent study of over 650,000 children found there was no link whatsoever.

RELATED: A new study of over 650,000 children finds — once again — that vaccines don't cause autism

A great example of the lack of critical thinking shown by anti-vaxxers was a recent exchange on Facebook shared to Imgur by zoezimmm.

A parent named Kenleigh at a school in New Mexico shared a photo of a sign at reads: "Children will not be enrolled unless an immunization record is presented and immunizations are up-to-date."

This angered a Facebook user who went on a senseless tirade against vaccinations.

"That's fine, I'll just homeschool my kids," she wrote. At least they won't have to worry about getting shot up in school or being bullied, or being beat up / raped by the teachers!"

To defend her anti-vaccination argument, she used a factually incorrect claim that Amish people don't vaccinate their children. She also incorrectly claimed that the MMR vaccine is ineffective and used anecdotal evidence from her and her father to claim that vaccinations are unnecessary.

She also argued that "every human in the world is entitled to their own opinion." Which is true, but doesn't mean that wildly incorrect assumptions about health should be tolerated.

She concluded her argument with a point that proves she doesn't care about facts: "It doesn't matter what you say is not going to change my mind."

RELATED: 12 medical professionals shared their most memorable anti-vaxxer stories and you won't stop face-palming

While the anti-vaxxer was incorrect in her points, it must also be pointed out that some of the people who argued with her on Facebook were rude. That should never be tolerated in this type of discourse, but unfortunately, that's the world of social media.

Here's the entire exchange:

via zoezimmm / imgur


via zoezimmm / imgur


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via zoezimmm / imgur


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via zoezimmm / imgur

The post received a ton of responses on imgur. Here are just a few:

"'In my opinion...' 'I believe...' That's not how facts work."

"You're entitled to your opinion. And everyone else is entitled to call you a dumbass."

"'What I do with my children is no concern to you at all.' Most of the time, true. When your kid might give mine polio, not true."

"If my child can't bring peanut butter, your child shouldn't bring preventable diseases."

It's important to call out people who spread dangerous views, especially how they pertain to health, on social media. But people should do so with respect and civility.

Health

He photographed Nazi atrocities and buried the negatives. The unearthed images are unforgettable.

He risked his life to leave a "historical record of our martyrdom."

via Yad Vashem and Archive of Modern Conflict, 2007

In September 1939, the Nazis invaded Poland. By April 1940, the gates closed on the Lodz Ghetto, the second largest in the country after Warsaw.

Throughout the war, over 210,000 people would be imprisoned in Lodz.

Among those held captive was Henryk Ross. He was a Jewish sports photographer before the Nazi invasion and worked for the the ghetto's Department of Statistics during the war. As part of his official job, he took identification photos of the prisoners and propaganda shots of Lodz' textile and leather factories.

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Communities
via Imgur

Every few years there's something that goes mega viral because people can't decide what it is.

There was the famous "is it blue and black, or white and gold" dress?

There was the audio recording that said either "yanny" or "Laurel."

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Viral


Rochester NY Airport Security passing insulting notes to travelers caught on tape www.youtube.com

Neil Strassner was just passing through airport security, something he does on a weekly basis as part of his job. That's when a contract airport security employee handed him a small piece of folded cardboard. Strassner, 40, took the paper and continued on his way. He only paused when he heard the security employee shouting back at him, "You going to open the note?"

When he unfolded the small piece of paper, Strassner was greeted with an unprompted insult. "You ugly!!!"

According to Strassner, and in newly released CCTV of the incident, the woman who handed him the note began laughing loudly.

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