In 1970, the first female to play professional football was recorded: Patricia Palinkas. She played for the Oralando Panthers of the Atlantic Coast Football League, and was a holder for her husband (a kicker).
In 1997, Liz Heaston became the first woman to play collegiate football. She made two extra points as the kicker for Willamette University, which was a member of the NAIA. Heaston was also a former soccer player.
2001 saw the first female player to score in a Division I (FCS) NCAA game. Ashley Martin was the kicker for Jacksonville State University and also played soccer.
Katie Hnida became the first female to dress in an NCAA Division I (FBS) bowl game, while at the University of Colorado at the 1999 Insight Bowl. After transferring, Hnida became the first female to score in a Division I (FBS) NCAA game. She was the kicker for the New Mexico Lobos. She previously played high school football. Katie also became the second female professional football player when she joined the Fort Wayne FireHawks.
In 2014, Julie Harshbarger became the first woman to an MVP award in an all-male league. She was the kicker in the Continental Indoor Football League, which was based in Chicago, Illinois. Harshbarger made 5 field goals and the MVP award was the Special Teams Player of the Year for leading all kickers in scoring.
Also in 2014, Jennifer Welter was the first woman to play a skill position for a professional football team. She was the running back for the Texas Revolution.
This year we saw Sarah Fuller become the first woman to play in a Power 5 conference game. She is the new kicker for the Vanderbilt Commodores. Unfortunatley for Fuller, because Vanderbilt is a terrible team this year, we only saw her kickoff to start the second half. However, we will get to see her hopefully get more action as she is the kicker this weekend when the Commodores play the Georgia Bulldogs.
These are just a few of the trailblazing women who have competed in the sport of football against men. There are numerous others who have played at the youth, high school, collegiate, and professional levels.
Other sports have seen women compete with and beat men as well. Billie Jean King defeated Bobby Riggs in the “Battle of the Sexes” in tennis. In 2004 and 2019, Candace Parker and Fran Belibi both won the McDonalds All-American Dunk Contests, which sees outstanding high school seniors showcase their talents. The WNBA practices against an all-male practice squad all the time. Soccer sees the U.S. women’s national team have far more success than the men. Even today, they are still better than the men’s national team. The U.S. men’s national team has won 6 Gold Cups and their best ranking has been #4 in the world. The women have been #1 for the past 3 years and are currently #1, won 4 Olympic Gold Medals, won 8 of the 10 Gold Cups (they did not compete in 1 because they were the host nation for the World Cup), and have won 4 of the 8 World Cups that have ever been held and they have competed in all 8.
Some of the most iconic athletes in history are women: Serena and Venus Williams, Simone Biles, Kerri Walsh Jennings, Misty May-Treanor, Lisa Leslie, and Ronda Rousey. Even today, arguaby one of the best fighters in the world (man or woman) is Valentina Shevchenko. The list of female athletes that we put up as some of the best athletes in the world along with men is so long I could spend hours listing them.
Women have always been dominant in sports. Physically, there are differences between women and men, but that does not mean that they can not compete with and defeat men in competition. It also does not diminish any of their success or the importance of when they compete with men on a national stage. It is time for more people to watch women’s sports, bet on women’s sports, and bet on women in general. We must stop doubting women and putting them down for competing with men. True fans of the world of sports understand this and betting fans understand this. Now it is time for everyone else to understand: It is time to bet on Women!
Featured Image Via: Business Insider
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