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Federal Judge Rules Against Girls’ Football in Utah

Andy Berg Headshot

A Utah district court has ruled against a girl’s bid to force school districts to create football teams for girls.

U.S. District Court judge Howard Nielson Monday ruled against Sam Gordon, saying that Utah school districts are not legally required to create a separate team for girls because those who want to play football can play on existing boys’ teams.

While Nielson acknowledged that schools and coaches could do more to encourage girls to play, but also Gordon was a special case, in that she’d garnered fame online for her football skills, in that there might not be enough girls to keep a league running.

Gordon has racked up millions of views on her YouTube account since she was 9, but she and other female players have argued that they need a league of their own, as they’re worried about playing with physically larger teenage boys, as well as harassment they’ve had to endure when they do play in boys’ leagues.

Gordon started an all-girl league with her father six years ago, which drew hundreds of girls from the Salt Lake area and argued that this showed that there were enough girls in the area to fill a roster.

Nielson disagreed, stating that he was “not convinced that [creating girls’ football] is required by the Constitution.”

The districts were represented by assistant Utah attorney general Rachel Terry, who said she was pleased by the ruling and the finding that they did not violate the Equal Protection clause or Title IX.

“The districts will continue to strive to expand opportunities for all students and to ensure equal opportunities for male and female students in athletics and activities,” Terry said in a statement, according to the Salt Lake City Fox affiliate.

Gordon was appreciative for the chance to have her case heard.

“We appreciate the Judge’s efforts to have this trial during the pandemic so that the girls’ stories could be told and voices heard,” Gordon wrote in a statement. “Those voices will continue until equality in athletics is reached in Utah and across the country.”

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