Girls on the gridiron

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Do not let the ponytails throw you. Alise Scaggs and Alexis Ervin are all grit on the gridiron, part of an all-girl tackle football league. (KFSN)

Girls on the gridiron

Alise Scaggs and Alexis Ervin are all grit on the gridiron, part of an all-girl tackle football league.

"When I score a touchdown it's probably one of the most exciting feelings I've ever experienced," said Scaggs.

Ervin said, "This is aggressive and I like the contact."

Nearly 2,000 girls now play on formerly all-boys high school teams. There is a girls flag football team managed by USA Football, and girls tackle leagues are popping up around the country.

Chad Oldham helped launch one league when his daughter wanted to play. He said it is about time girls have the option.

"To be honest with you, I don't know why it's been so long for girls to play tackle football. They enjoy the sport just as much, and even more, as the boys do."

While they may enjoy the sport-- what about the risks? There are no studies specifically on girls playing football. But one nationwide study of nine high school sports found that, overall, "a significantly higher proportion of concussions was seen for girls versus boys."

Oldham said his coaches are all certified in the "Heads Up Concussion Prevention Program," and his league has adjusted the game to protect the players and make fun the priority.

"We basically eliminated all the high impact plays. The field isn't the same size as what the boys play when they play on a smaller field, to reduce higher impacts."

Parents of players said they also take some comfort knowing their daughters are tackling other girls, but they never forget that risk is part of the game.

"With any sport you're going to have some sort of risk involved. So, I'm beyond the mom that's scared on the sidelines," said Andrea Hollinghead, parent.

"I think every girl should have the opportunity to play," said Scaggs.

Research finds an increasing number of concussions in all sports for all kids. And even though rules are adjusted on the all-girls tackle teams, co-ed rules remain the same for girls and boys.
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