Women in longhorn football are underrepresented

Nahila Bonfiglio

The Longhorns are known far beyond Texas for their athletic excellence, so it is no wonder sports at The University of Texas are rarely lacking in sports coverage. With eight varsity men’s sports and ten varsity women’s sports, a lover of athletics can find themselves a fix at UT most any time of the year.

But what of women in male-dominated sports? Women in men’s sports have been on the rise for years, with several young trailblazers participating in collegiate level football at Jacksonville State University and Adams State University. The latter, my first college, presented Becca Longo with the first football scholarship offered to a woman.

Here at UT, however, we have never seen a female athlete participate in our beloved football games. This is not due to an exclusionary policy, according to Christine Plonsky, a spokeswoman for Intercollegiate Athletics, but merely to a lack of interest.

“The fact that we have not had inquiries (in) to (football) I think is a reflection that women’s interests are being met,” Plonsky said.

However, perhaps women are not inquiring due to a lack of information — maybe there are some football lovers out there who would love to try out for our football team. If so, ladies, know that the athletics department is open to your requests. 

All women who have competed in football at a college level have played the position of kicker, but what if a girl is physically capable of keeping up with her male peers and wishes to pursue a different position? According to my conversation with Plonsky, you just have to ask, and you should have the possibility to play in any position that you prove yourself capable of dominating.

Why not be a running back? Even a quarterback? I am entirely aware that not all women can compete in such a physical sport, particularly when facing down a line of 200 pound men. I, for instance, would be instantly crushed by the smallest of competitors, despite a burning desire that I have had for years to play the full-contact sport.

There are realities that must be acknowledged, at least until the day comes that the idea of an all-female football team is considered. Women tend to be smaller than men and we build muscle less easily. However, to those who may think that we are also less capable of taking a hit, there are quite a few female rugby players that would undoubtedly disagree. I have seen rugby women lose teeth — in one instance half of an ear — and keep playing.

The only thing that keeps strong, capable women from the football field is desire. In her 28 years of working at UT, Plonsky said that the multitude of sports offered to female athletes seem, so far at least, to have satisfied UT’s female population. I am happy to know, however, that the option is open if there are those that are interested — and more physically capable — than I. 

After all, if we can fight and die for our country, shouldn’t we be able to play a little football?

Bonfiglio is a journalism junior from Oak Creek, Colorado. Follow her on Twitter @NahilaBonfiglio.