Football fans unfamiliar with Jacksonville State University’s football team may notice something a bit odd about one of the kickers. At first, they scratch their heads in confusion, but it doesn’t take long before they understand. One of the Gamecocks’ kickers, Ashley Martin, is a lady in a team of men.
There aren’t many women playing the male-dominated sport of American football, especially not at a college level, but there have been enough making the news this year to catch people’s attention.
Some fans have had conflicting views about ladies hoping to take to football field, primarily considered men’s territory. Most, however, supported the mixing off the sexes in the realm of sports.
The previously mentioned Ashley Martin is one such lady and the first woman to play and score in a Division I football game, according to an ABC News article, published August 31, 2013. Martin even earned the team three extra points without a single miss in the season opener, which the Gamecocks won.
Because Martin is a member of Jacksonville’s soccer team, she will be making at most four more appearances on the football field. Martin’s soccer coach chose this number after giving the football team a requirement: Martin could kick for the football team if it didn’t conflict with her participation in the soccer team.
Martin is not the only female kicker who made the news recently. Former MIT student Lauren Silberman also desires to be a college-level kicker. Silberman became the first female registrant for a kicker NFL roster spot this spring, according to a Daily News article written by Seth Walder on March 1, 2013. Like Martin, Silberman also played soccer before football.
John Brown university students described how they felt about women playing football alongside men.
Freshman Zackery G. Sandell said “I find it interesting. I don’t take any side in sexism in sports. If the female kicker can do better than the male, then that’s fine by me.”
Freshman Connor E. Young said “I think women participating in male-dominated sports is fine if they can handle it.”
Sophomore Danielle B. McGriff said “I think it depends on the situation. There are women who have the ability to play football at that level. There’s a lot of social stigma with it. If women have the ability to play at that level with the physical exertion needed, then that’s cool.”
Junior Jonathan Smith said “I think that it would be okay. I’ve seen it in high schools and middle schools. There’s nothing new about it.”
Students expressed little variety in their responses. All said that it was fine, provided the female athletes were capable of playing “in the big leagues” with their male counterparts, a view no doubt shared by many.
JSU footballs fans rose after the season opener to give Ashley Martin a standing ovation, praising the woman for the effort she put into the game and her help.
Lauren Silberman may not be so lucky. Silberman said she was realistic about her chances of getting into the NFL – relatively low – when interviewed by the New York Daily News.
Even if the chance is low, there is still a chance. Football enthusiasts and feminists alike should keep an eye on sports news to see if Silberman gets picked by a team in the years to come.