Women have begun playing full-contact American football. Most leagues play by the same rules as their male counterparts, with one exception: women's leagues use a slightly smaller football. Women primarily play on a semi-professional or amateur level in the United States. Very few high schools or colleges offer the sport solely for women and girls; however, on occasion, it is permissible for a female player to join the regular male team.


United StatesEdit


Disbanded or moribundEdit

There was also a league in the 1970s called the National Women's Football League, not be confused with the NWFA (which also went by that name but changed due to pressure from the National Football League).

Lingerie Football LeagueEdit

Women's American football should not be confused with the Lingerie Football League. The Lingerie Football League is an organization based on sex appeal, including nontraditional, revealing uniforms and partial selection of roster for physical appearance. It also plays under a modified indoor football format with a reduced-size field, so that it can be played in smaller venues and so that heavier linemen are not needed. (Despite the heavy use of sex appeal, the league does play legitimate football, and most of the league's players have previous athletic experience; former NFL players have coached LFL teams.)

Women in college and professional footballEdit

Of the women who have seen action in men's college and pro football, almost all have been in special teams positions that are protected from physical contact. The first professional player was a placekick holder (a traditionally trivial position usually occupied by a person who holds another position on the team), while the best known female college football players were all placekickers, with all having primarily played women's soccer prior to converting.

Patricia Palinkas is on record as being the first female professional football player, having played for the Orlando Panthers of the Atlantic Coast Football League in 1970. Palinkas was a placekick holder for her placekicker husband.[1]

On October 18, 1997, Liz Heaston became the first woman to play and score in a college football game, kicking two extra points.[2] Prior to this game, female athletes at Duke and Louisville had come close to playing in a game but did not.[3] In 2001, Ashley Martin became the second female athlete to score in a college football game, this time in the NCAA. In 2003, Katie Hnida became the first female athlete to score in a Division I-A bowl game; she later became the second professional player when she signed with the Fort Wayne FireHawks.

International CompetitionEdit

The world governing body for American football associations, the International Federation of American Football (IFAF), held the first ever Women's World Cup in Stockholm, Sweden, in 2010. Six nations participated in the inaugural event: Austria, Canada, Finland, Germany, Sweden, and the United States. The United States won the gold by beating Canada, 66-0. The next World Cup will be held in 2013.

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit


  1. Associated Press (1970-09-04). "First woman to earn place on pro grid team is also suspended." Retrieved 2010-12-25.
  2. Ley, Bob (October 15, 2000). "Page 2-Outside the Lines: Heather Sue Mercer suit". Retrieved April 19, 2011.
  3. "Woman Kicks Extra Points". New York Times. October 20, 1997. Retrieved April 20, 2011.

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