Women's American football
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Women's gridiron football, more commonly known as women's American football, women's Canadian football, or simply women's football, is a form of gridiron football (American or Canadian) played by women. Most leagues play by the same rules as their male counterparts, with one exception: women's leagues use a slightly smaller football. Women primarily play on a semi-professional or amateur level in the United States. Very few high schools or colleges offer the sport solely for women and girls; however, on occasion, it is permissible for a female player to join the otherwise male team.
The first evidence of women playing organized football was in 1926. It was then that an NFL team called the Frankford Yellow Jackets (the predecessors to the modern Philadelphia Eagles) employed a women's team for halftime entertainment.
Leagues play American football unless otherwise noted.
- IWFA Premier League of Texas (IWFA)
- Independent Women's Football League (IWFL)
- Women's Football Alliance (WFA)
- United States Women's Football League (USWFL)
- Legends Football League (LFL) (formerly the "Lingerie Football League")
- Women's National Football Conference (WNFC)
- Xtreme Female Football League of Texas (XXFL)
- Women's Xtreme Football League of Kansas/Oklahoma (WXFL)
- Utah Girls Football League (GFL) (youth/high school level)
- Maritime Women's Football League (MWFL) (Canadian football)
- Western Women's Canadian Football League (WWCFL) (Canadian football)
- Legends Football League Canada (LFL)
- Female Gridiron League of Queensland
- Ladies Football League
- Ladies Gridiron League
- Legends Football League Australia (LFL)
- Women's Gridiron Leagues of Australia
- Legends Football League Europa (LFL) (Debut 2015)
- Austrian Football Division Ladies (AFL Division Ladies) (Debut 2000)
- British American Football Association Womens (BAFA Womens)
- Damenbundesliga (1989-)
- 2. Damenbundesliga
- Aufbauliga NRW
- Football Xtremo Femenil (2006-)
- Asociación de Football Femenil Equipado (2010-?)
- Legends Football League Asia (LFL) (Debut TBD)
- Women's Professional Football League (WPFL) 1965-1973
- National Women's Football League (NWFL) 1974-1988
- Western States Women's Professional Football League (WSWPFL) 1978-1980
- Women's Tackle Football Association (WTFA) 1988-1990
- Women's Affiliate Football Conference (WAFC) 2002
- United Women's Football League (UWFL) 2002
- American Football Women's League (AFWL) 2002-2003
- Women's American Football League (WAFL) 2001-2003
- Women's Football Association (WFA) 2002-2003
- Ladies Tackle Football League (LTFL) (Central California, disbanded circa 2004?)
- Women's Football League (WFL) 2002-2007
- Women's Professional Football League (WPFL) 1999-2008
- National Women's Football Association (NWFA) 2000-2009
Women in college and professional football
Of the women who have seen action in men's college and pro football, almost all have been in special teams positions that are protected from physical contact. The first professional player was a placekick holder (a traditionally trivial position usually occupied by a person who holds another position on the team), while the best known female college football players were all placekickers, with all having primarily played women's soccer prior to converting.
Patricia Palinkas is on record as being the first female professional football player, having played for the Orlando Panthers of the Atlantic Coast Football League in 1970. Palinkas was a placekick holder for her placekicker husband.
On October 18, 1997, Liz Heaston became the first woman to play and score in a college football game, kicking two extra points. Prior to this game, female athletes at Duke and Louisville had come close to playing in a game but did not. In 2001, Ashley Martin became the second female athlete to score in a college football game, this time in the NCAA.
In 2003, Katie Hnida became the first female athlete to score in a Division I-A bowl game; she later became the second professional player when she signed with the Fort Wayne FireHawks. Julie Harshbarger, a placekicker for numerous Chicago-based Continental Indoor Football League teams, became the first female player to win a most valuable player award in an otherwise all-male league in 2014; by kicking five field goals that season, she earned the title of special teams player of the year, leading all kickers in the league in scoring; with a career spanning seven seasons, Harshbarger's career was the longest documented of any woman playing in a predominantly men's professional league. Jennifer Welter became the first female skill position player at the male professional level by playing as a running back in the Texas Revolution in 2014.
To date, no women have ever tried to play a line position at a position above the high school level. Holley Mangold, whose brother Nick played several years in the NFL and who herself played as a linewoman in high school, declined to further pursue football in college, fearing she had no chance to play professionally as a woman; she later went on to become an Olympic weightlifter.
Brittanee Jacobs is the first female football coach at the collegiate level. She helped coach safeties at Central Methodist University during the 2012 season. Welter would become the first female coach at the professional level when she took a preseason position with the Arizona Cardinals in 2015; a year later, Kathryn Smith, who had spent several years as a front office assistant, took a quality control coaching position with the Buffalo Bills, making her the first permanent female coach in National Football League history.
To date, only one woman has ever attempted to join the NFL: Lauren Silberman, who received a tryout to a scouting combine in 2013. Silberman had never played the game before and botched her tryout, leading observers to assume the tryout was a publicity stunt.
The world governing body for American football associations, the International Federation of American Football (IFAF), held the first ever Women's World Cup in Stockholm, Sweden, in 2010. Six nations participated in the inaugural event: Austria, Canada, Finland, Germany, Sweden, and the United States. The United States won the gold by beating Canada, 66-0. The Women's World Championship is on the 4 year schedule with other international games. The 2013 World Championship, in Finland, was held from 30 June 2013 to 7 July 2013. The USA won gold again, beating Sweden 84-0 and Germany 107-7 in order to make it to the gold medal match with Canada, whom they beat 64-0. In the 2017 IFAF Women's World Championship, held in Canada, the six teams invited were; Australia, Canada, Finland, Great Britain, Mexico and the United States. The US continued their dominance, claiming gold, while Canada and Mexico won silver and bronze respectively. Plans for the 2021 WWC are currently underway with a host country yet to be selected.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Women's American football.|
- Melinda Sparks. "Central Florida Anarchy Women's Football Team Home". Cfanarchy.com. Retrieved 2017-02-28.
- "A History of Women in Tackle Football". Angelfire.com. Retrieved 2017-02-28.
- Ley, Bob (October 15, 2000). "Page 2-Outside the Lines: Heather Sue Mercer suit". ESPN.com. Retrieved April 19, 2011.
- "Woman Kicks Extra Points". New York Times. October 20, 1997. Retrieved April 20, 2011.
- Valade, Jodie (May 29, 2010). "Nick Mangold's 'girly-girl' sister gives up football for weightlifting". Cleveland Plain Dealer. Retrieved June 23, 2012.
- Dellenger, Ross (2012-10-02). "Jacobs gets foothold in football coaching". Columbia Daily Tribune. Retrieved 2013-05-02.
- "Women's Professional Football" history to 2000 Stuart Kantor, ProFootballResearchers.com (PDF)
- "History of women's football (so far)" Central Florida Anarchy
- History of women's football Sacramento Sirens
- The First Women's Football Shirt website
- Women's Football Forums
- Official German website for league play
- "Women Playing American Football in North America and Internationally" Ohio Northern University