Despite women proving they are talented athletes. Despite showing that they can draw spectators. Despite showing themselves to be as dedicated athletes. Women have gotten the fuzzy end of the lollipop in regards to the sporting world.
Football has always been seen as a male domain. Players, coaches, owners, officials, and even for the most part the journalists who cover it. All men. Other than the occasional sideline reporter (they are never in the booth) and cheerleaders, football has not let women in. Some women have gone against the grain and decided, even if they are not welcomed by the sport, that they, due to their love for it, were going to play. And not flag. Tackle football.
As someone who considers herself a big sports fan and pretty in the know about what goes on I was surprised to find out there is an women’s tackle football league in operation in the United States. As I began to watch Viridiana Lieberman’s documentary I learned why. There is no coverage of the league. The women are not paid. They actually have to pay to play. Still they forge on. Playing the game they love.
The documentary follows the Boston Renegades team around for an entire season to give us a taste of women’s football and what these women do to be able to play. It is the season after one in which the team went undefeated, but lost in the final. They are looking to accomplish what was just out of their reach last season.
In a voiceover one of the Renegades players says “The vast vast majority of them (Boston sports fans) don’t even know we exist.” Sad as they are as or even more dedicated than their peers of the opposite sex who earn millions to play. These women all work full time jobs so they can play as they earn no money to play. They sell tickets to games, hold t-shirt sales and raffles so they can earn a bit of money in order to pay for field time (they can only afford to practice twice a week), have equipment and uniforms and other things so they can play. Coaches are there on a volunteer basis earning no pay. It is all about love of the game in this league.
Ranging in age from 19 to 49 the women on the Renegades put their heart and souls into the game. Many suffer injuries. Still they love to play and are heartbroken when they can’t or it is time to retire. They do not play for the adulation or money. Access to that is denied them. Still they play.
Women creating a space for themselves in a sport they love. Making the world a place which is one in which they can play tackle football. Amazing to watch. If you not have the utmost respect for these women and see them as true sports heroes after watching Born to Play then you have no heart.