Your Kid’s Not Going Pro

A Youth Sports Blog

If girls play football, boys will grow up to be wife beaters!

with 9 comments

Dave Cisar is an authority on coaching youth football, especially in the ways of the old-timey single-wing offense.

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However, I’m not so sure he’s an authority on girls playing football, a subject upon which his thoughts are as old-timey as that offense he borrowed from Pop Warner to dominate at Pop Warner, or some such youth football equivalent.

I think you’ll catch his drift with the headline on his piece about girls and football: “Should girls be playing youth football? NO!”

Sorry, I should have said “spoiler alert.”

Cisar, writing at EZine Articles:

In inner-city Omaha [where Cisar founded the free athletic program Screaming Eagles Sports] nearly 70% of our players have no man in the home. If you think I’m exaggerating, we have had games with 2 people in the stands and both were females, not enough for a chain crew. This was not a one time deal, we have had many games where we did not have 3 males to run the chains. Many of our players have no model of behavior in the house to “copy” of how to properly treat a woman. The kids often see first hand women being physically and mentally abused and of course they hear it in the music they listen to, on TV and in print. I’ve been coaching youth football for 15 years and the “dadless” house problem is getting worse every year. Tom Osborne in his book “Faith in the Game” claims this problem is increasing and is responsible for the majority of crime and problems with young males.

If we let girls play tackle football with boys, we teach the boys that harsh physical contact with females is acceptable behavior. In fact as coaches we would have to encourage and reward this physical contact. Our players would get in the habit and be used to being physical with females, the act would desensitize everyone involved in the activity of physical force being applied to females by males. The female in the meantime is learning that harsh physical contact with males is acceptable, it is now a habit. Now while having females on your team may help the short term progress of some of our football teams I’m not sure we are helping either the boy or the girl in their long term development as productive members of our society.

Now, I’ve coached co-ed basketball teams, so I know that, at least initially, boys and girls do feel a little weird about playing together, especially when there’s contact involved. And I don’t doubt Cisar’s sincerity that he wants boys to overcome a tough environment and treat women well.

But I think kids are capable of separating their on-field actions from their off-field actions. If that wasn’t the case, then Cisar would have been teaching the inner city boys of Omaha that it’s acceptable, off the field, to body block anyone who gets in their way.

His concern is based on an old canard: it’s not OK to hit a girl. I mean, it isn’t. But what I’m saying is, implicit in that statement is that it IS OK for boys to hit each other — which, off the field, isn’t supposed to happen, either. (By the way, it’s nice that Cisar wants to keep women free from the chains, if not of bondage, than of the first-down marker.)

So how does Cisar explain his no-gurlz-allowed policy to families who want to sign up their daughters for football?

In our rural program we have had no female football sign ups. In Omaha we have had a few moms try and sign their daughters up for football. After the initial disappointment wore off and the mom was told why we think it makes sense in the long run for females not to play, the moms were very supportive. I can think of just one case where mom didn’t “get it” and pulled her son out of the program because we would not allow her daughter to be pummeled by boys on our team. I can still see her today, a single mom with 3 kids that needed the program who refused to listen to reason. This mom had two missing front teeth, probably caused by the same cycle we were trying to help break.

She lost her front teeth because her significant male other played football against girls as a kid?

Dave Cisar may already be too late in his crusade to keep football girl-free, and not just because he might run into Natalie Randolph or Debbie Vance at a coaching clinic. For instance, he must have missed the memo that the Florida High School Athletic Association officially has declared football a co-ed sport.

Written by rkcookjr

April 2, 2010 at 4:42 pm

9 Responses

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  1. I don’t care how good a coach this guy is, I wouldn’t want my children – son or daughter – to be on his team where he can influence them with that kind of backward, archaic and ridiculous thinking.

    Michele Catalano

    April 3, 2010 at 6:55 am

  2. Where do you draw the line?
    Basketball is not a violent game like football, they dont have to wear helmets and shoulder pads in basketball for a reason. Those are decorations, they serve a purpose.
    Do you draw the line at football?
    Do you draw the line at wrestling?
    How about boxing?
    What about bloody MMA fighting?

    Yes our “open minded” melding of the sexes has done a SUPER job in decreasing violence against and between women. That problem hs REALLY shrunk in the last 20 years.


    April 7, 2010 at 2:54 pm

  3. Statistics over last 20 years, verified by MANY studies:
    Violence against women by men UP-big
    Violence against women by Women up- HUGE
    Violence against men by women- UP HUGE
    Violence against men by male partners- Down- stable

    The masculinization of women, breaking down the barrier that men shouldnt hurt women in sports like football, wrestling, boxing and MMA don’t do anything to show men that women should never be harmed.


    April 7, 2010 at 6:06 pm

  4. Dave: Thanks for responding. As for where to draw the line, how about we let girls and their parents make that decision, instead of having men make it for them? Plenty of girls wrestle and play football. Women box. I don’t know about MMA — I don’t follow it.

    If you were being sarcastic at the end about the rates of violence against women, well, I would find it hard to believe a more tolerant and supporting attitude toward girls in sports, including rough sports, had an effect either way. Also, I would argue that even if crime rates against women were up over a long period, that has as much to do with awareness of domestic violence and a more encouraging environment for women to report it. After all, 20-30 years ago you could beat your wife with impunity in a lot of areas, whether or not she played football.

    Bob Cook

    April 7, 2010 at 6:10 pm

  5. First, Coach Dave, do you have a link to a source on these numbers? I’m really curious.

    I’d also like to see a source saying that “the masculinization of women,” as you call it, would be responsible for any rise. And, remember, correlation does not equal causation.

    Bob Cook

    April 8, 2010 at 12:38 am

  6. Bob,

    I could quote MANY studies and stats, but your mind is made up. No matter the mountain of data, it won’t matter to you, you will toss up another excuse.

    Yes the masculinization of women has been a HUGE benefit to women. My program, I make the rules and we have kids standing in line to play for me, some years it was over 200 kids on the waiting list. People vote with their feet on that issue.

    If you allow your little girls to wrestle and box men or even do MMA vs men, have at it, but not in my program. There is no law against it, feel free to do that to your kids. I’m just not going to spend my own money and time to sanction it. Lowering those barriers has done SO much for improving violence vs women numbers. Interesting to see the studies on domestic partners Ive seen the male vs female and female vs female numbers have risen dramaticly, while the men vs men hasnt.That flys in the face of the macro crime numbers and underreporting arguements you suggested.

    Everyone is entitled to an opinion and when someone has already made up their mind and will not look at the problem with an open mind, no amount of data or logic will do. Being “from the hood” and living/working with these kids and single parent homes (over 70% with the kids I worked with) you get a first hand look at the total failure of current popular culture and social mores.


    April 8, 2010 at 11:59 am

  7. Mr. Cisar, you say, “No matter the mountain of data, it won’t matter to you, you will toss up another excuse.” That sounds like a comment from someone who really doesn’t have any reputable data, but doesn’t want to admit it. Humor us, and give us at least one legitimate study that shows a link between girls participating in “boys” sports and violence against women.

    You claim that “current popular culture and social mores” are the source for increased violence against women, yet, the last time I checked, girls playing football (or other “male” sports) is not status quo. It is still an anomaly and is often stigmatized in popular culture. So how can you claim that allowing girls to play contact sports with boys is responsible for current social problems when it happens on such a small scale (and never in your program’s case)?

    You also write, “when someone has already made up their mind and will not look at the problem with an open mind, no amount of data or logic will do.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.

    Ron Berry

    July 8, 2010 at 4:57 pm

  8. Hello davecisar,

    I wrestled in college and we had women wrestlers and we all practiced together. I never wrestled a women in a tournament but I wrestled plenty in practice.

    My son was on the wrestling team at his high school and it was coed. He practiced with girls and he even completed against them. In his senior year on the varsity team, his school had girls who not only beat boys on opposing teams, they had their first girl who beat a boy by a pin, they had their first girl to win a tournament and they their first girl go to the state finals.

    His high school was not even a leader in girls wrestling. One of the nearby high schools had some really impressive girls who not only routinely competed against boys, but won regularly (mostly in the lighter weight classes). I would add that none of these girls were defeminized nor were the boys emasculated (although they could count on some extra ribbing if they did lose to a girl, even a really good one). I remember one girl who was not only the best female wrestler in the league, she was on the prom court as well.

    Draw the line at wrestling? The lines been gone for years.


    July 9, 2010 at 11:27 am

  9. […] play that is something resembling football. Youth football coach and expert Dave Cisar might have retrograde views toward girls and his sport, but there’s nothing wrong his retrograde embrace of the modern trickery of the ancient […]

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