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Hawks tackle gender inequality in football

The Oregon Hawks hopes success on the field brings respect off of it.

Posted: Jun 6, 2019 7:12 PM
Updated: Jun 6, 2019 7:13 PM

Eugene, OR -- The Oregon Hawks are not a normal powderpuff football team.

We’re not just women football players, we’re football players,” running back Alyse Gutierrez said.

Women’s tackle football is not something you see every day. The Hawks thrive at it.

“When they come out here and they’re better athletes then some men I’ve seen it’s kind of cool to see," head coach Mike Howell said. "It’s exciting, especially, when you see daughters of players on the team who are watching their mom break necks and cash checks.”

The Hawks are one of more than 60 teams in the growing Women’s Football Alliance league. While it is slowly on the rise, women in football is still uncommon. According to the sports and fitness industry association, of the 5.5 million Americans who report playing tackle football just a little more than ten percent are female. 

“I never had the opportunity growing up to play tackle football," quarterback Beth Horner said. "It’s something you always watched from the sidelines in high school but never had the opportunity to go do it.” 

It’s all about breaking barriers. The Hawks hope success on the field brings respect off of it.

“It’s a challenge," Horner said. "It continually makes me have to be stronger and faster than I have been before."

The team hopes that the game continues to grow in the Willamette Valley and beyond.

“It reminds me of the Steve Jobs quote that the world is just this metal box and people live inside the metal box and never challenge the metal box," Howell said. "Then one day somebody does and they realize it’s just tin foil. You can do whatever you want. Just because you love in the definition of what people put you in doesn’t meant that you have to stay there. So I hope that this, kind of, sheds some light on that and, kind of, crushes that tin foil box for people.”

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