Newton South Cancels Powderpuff Football Game; Cites Bullying, Sexism

NEWTON (CBS) – The principal at Newton South High School is coming under fire over a decision to cancel the school’s annual powderpuff football game.

For years, girls from the school’s senior class have squared off against girls from the junior class during the week before Thanksgiving.

But in a letter to parents, Principal Joel Stembridge announced this year’s game would not take place. Stembridge cites a number of reasons, calling the game itself is dangerous and alleging the lead-up to it promotes bullying.

“From groups of students marching through the halls chanting slogans to destruction of decorations to vandalism of personal property — this school-sponsored activity leads to incidents that we would otherwise describe as ‘bullying,’” the letter said.

Stembridge says there have been concussions, broken bones and other serious injuries during games in recent years.

He also cites sexism as part of the decision to cancel the game.

“In terms of gender politics, the name ‘powderpuff,’ which most students still call the game, inadvertently serves to mock the hard-fought struggles of female athletes to be taken seriously and, we think, perpetuates negative stereotypes about femininity and female athletes,” the letter said. “Our young women’s athletic achievements deserve to be taken more seriously.”

A number of students are protesting the decision, and have vowed to bring back the game.

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