Powder puff problems?

Rebecca Schafer and Michael Schafer

Powder Puff football is a long standing tradition at many high schools across America, but where does it come from? And why has it lasted for so long?

In 1945, many boys were being drafted into World War II and Homecoming football games were being cancelled around America. Young women took it into their hands to have a football game, a game of good fun and cheery nature of course. The name ‘Powder Puff’ comes from the specific type of powder makeup applied with a puff like ball or pad.

Owatonna High School has many fantastic female athletes, many of whom signed up to play in this year’s Powder Puff. One of the players, senior Gabi Zeman said, 

“It’s a lot of fun to do with the whole grade and… it’s super fun!”

— Gabi Zeman

And she’s completely right! Assistant Principal Nicole Adams said, “I don’t blame them for liking it. It’s an opportunity to participate in an athletic event.” Time and time again, girls sign up for powder puff and have a lot of fun, so how can it be bad?

It is important to question tradition and what that tradition actually means. Powder Puff began in a time when women athletes were not being taken seriously in comparison to their male counterparts. Even today the audience attending a Powder Puff game are there not to watch a football game, but to watch girls play football. There is a comedic aspect. Mrs. Adams said,

“Why is this funny? Why is this humorous? And I see a lot of our female athletes out there, who are legitimate athletes, playing their hearts out. But then spectators, treating it like it’s some sort of funny novelty event.”

— Mrs. Adams

Many of the girls playing are also seeking athletic scholarships for their chosen sport.

Spectators are not paying the female athletes the respect that they deserve.

Powder Puff is a great event that raised money for the food shelf. It is the idea that women are less than that needs to be looked at. It is obvious how much this event means to the girls that partake in it. But opening a discussion about the sexist undertones of Powder Puff and possible homecoming alternative games could be something the Owatonna student body and staff looks into for future years. Mrs. Adams said, “I think it’s appropriate to foster a conversation and a dialogue about Powder Puff. And I think people really need to start at least thinking about that and if it is something that they do want to continue.” There is no clear cut answer. But in order to challenge this stereotype it is necessary to educate people who are unaware of its negative effects on the perception of female athletes.