'Inappropriate Touching' Concerns Scuttle Pla's Football Hopes: Report

A panel appointed by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia has recommended upholding a ban against girls in grades 5 through 8 from playing contact football, Forbes reports.

A panel of 20 people appointed by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia has voted 16-3, with one abstention, to uphold a ban on females in grades 5-8 playing Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) contact football, Forbes reports.

The panel's decision, reportedly reached on Feb. 14, would seemingly end the youth football aspirations of 11-year-old Caroline Pla of Buckingham Township.

Caroline was in her second season of CYO contact football last fall when a complaint registered by an opposing team led the Archdiocese to enforce a pre-existing ban against female players. The Archdiocese permitted Pla to finish the season.

Citing two panel members who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity, Forbes reports that the panel, described by the Archdiocese as "consisting of priests, parents, coaches, and medical experts," focused on the possibility of "inappropriate touching" during youth football games:

One scenario the group was told to picture was a female quarterback putting her hands too close to the posterior of a male center. When asked what that meant, one source inferred the female QB would then be inclined to start inappropriately touching the center. The other source inferred that the boy might like the touching and perhaps more kids would start signing up to play the sport. That source had no explanation for drawing that personal conclusion.

Caroline, a sixth-grader at Cold Spring Elementary School, fell in love with the sport as a toddler and started playing when she was 5 years old.

After a few years playing Pop Warner, she had spent the past two seasons playing in a Catholic Youth Organization league, her mother Marycecelia Pla writes in a petition at change.org.

Now, at 11, Caroline and her parents, George and Seal Pla, argue that she is physically able to compete and has been an equal part of the team all along.

An official announcement of the Archdiocesan panel's decision is expected by mid-March.

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Bruno Larceny February 23, 2013 at 08:37 AM
I personally think the concerns over inappropriate touching are overly worrisome, even a bit silly, but question the motives and spirit of the Pla's protest. There are other opportunities for Pla to participate in sports. No one forces the Plas to send their child to participate in a Catholic organization, and nothing prevents them from joining a different organization, such as a public league. If the Plas don't agree with the Catholic organization's moral prudence, they can just choose to participate in a different program. But instead they make a deliberate choice to try to impose their own moral values on the entire Catholic organization. It seems that by choosing to make a big deal of it, and put themselves forward as "activists" for change, they are unnecessarily creating a conflict by being deliberately self centered and difficult. We as individuals are not obligated to fight for our personal right at every opportunity. There is virtue in willingly and humbly subjecting one's rights for the sake of others. I just can't see any selfless societal benefit in the Plas fighting for their daughter to play in a Catholic league. Being a responsible member of society is about living peacefully with those whose values you don't share, cooperating with them when you can, not joining an organization whose values you don't share and attempting to force your personal values on all the other individuals in that organization. It seems the Plas just enjoy being the center of attention.
Raymond Clay February 23, 2013 at 08:51 AM
" Catholic organization's moral prudence". That's a mouthful
Bruno Larceny February 23, 2013 at 10:57 AM
"That's a mouthful" I've got plenty more where that came from!
LeRoy February 23, 2013 at 03:57 PM
The assertion that the Plas are deliberitly choosing to put themselves forward as activists might be valid if their daughter was originally trying to joing the CYO league. In this case, she had already been a member of the team and the CYO decided to arbitrailly enforce a rule which they had previously been happy to ignore. Secondly, if the potential contact in a football game is deemed "inappropriate touching", what about cheerleaders, gymnasts and ice skaters who do lifts?
Elizabeth Coleman February 23, 2013 at 05:50 PM
What an insult to boys! Are they implying that boys are totally incapable of self-control?
Jane February 23, 2013 at 07:03 PM
Wow, the Archdiocese has some really creepy thought processes they might need to work through. This is how they think?!? About kids? Eeeeeeekkk...
Bruno Larceny February 23, 2013 at 08:18 PM
"the CYO decided to arbitrailly enforce a rule which they had previously been happy to ignore." I think it's more likely that the coach of the team was either unaware of the rule or just neglected to enforce it. So, really, it was the FAILURE of the coach to enforce the rule that was arbitrary. Realizing the mistake and enforcing it (albeit inconveniently late) is just restoring normality, not being arbitrary. If there are many females playing football with boys elsewhere in the CYO, and this is the only case in which the rule is being enforce, that would be arbitrary. But that's not what happened here. " what about cheerleaders, gymnasts and ice skaters who do lifts?" The CYO doesn't have these activities, so there is no contradictory behavior here. The CYO does not forbid anyone from participating in these activities in other organizations. If the CYO DID participate in these activities, I think we can safely assume that they would forbid close male/female physical contact in these activities as well.
Janet B February 23, 2013 at 08:58 PM
"Inappropriate Touching"! The Archdiocese should look in their own backyard, not the football field.
M.S.D. February 23, 2013 at 10:38 PM
M.S.D. February 23, 2013 at 10:42 PM
"end the youth football aspirations of 11-year-old Caroline Pla of Buckingham Township" ? What about Lenape Valley football, or the football team at the middle school where she will be attending next fall? (Holicong/Tohikon)? There are many other leagues and teams in the area. Stop demonizing the CYO organization as a whole. What about the other area leagues...do they allow girls that age to play on a boys' team? If not, why aren't the Pla's complaining about that? Enough already.
Mary191 February 23, 2013 at 10:58 PM
More antiquated and demented thinking which will continue to drive more and more reasonable people away from the church.
Wilma Fingerdoo February 24, 2013 at 12:47 AM
"The other source inferred that the boy might like the touching and perhaps more kids would start signing up to play the sport. That source had no explanation for drawing that personal conclusion." Seriously? There's no demonizing of CYO organizations...they bring this sh@t on themselves. If only they had the same moral standards for altar boys to protect them from pedophile priests maybe the Catholic church wouldn't be in it's current situation. It's just a football game. Seriously.
Mary191 February 24, 2013 at 05:27 AM
At CYO/Catholic School dances.... are boys & girls allowed to dance face to face?? OMG!!!! Better chance that FAST!!!!! The sky is falling! Or... as Galileo said... "The world is round".... When the Pope said ..."the world is flat".........
Pat Achilles February 24, 2013 at 12:38 PM
The editor of this story should change the sentence "The panel's decision, reportedly reached on Feb. 14, would seemingly end the youth football aspirations of 11-year-old Caroline Pla of Buckingham Township." As a commenter above points out, that statement is incorrect, there are other leagues the student can join. It is an odd way for this family to demonstrate respect for their church by going to the national media with tis story before approaching the archdiocese.
Jane February 25, 2013 at 12:35 AM
It's an odd way for their church to demonstrate it has respect for women, of any age, by refusing them equal access to anything from football to the priesthood. Good for the family for calling attention to that. It's a major reason I won't raise my children in that religion, despite many, many years of Catholic education and school and home.
M.S.D. February 25, 2013 at 12:55 AM
Lenape Valley Football....and Central Bucks Middle School football programs....do they allow girls to play on the boys' team? This is just a chance for the religious bigots to Catholic bash when all the other area boys football teams available for that age group limit the enrollment to boys as well.
Jane February 25, 2013 at 12:57 AM
Ahhhh, the old "everyone else is doing it" line. My parents didn't accept that excuse for bad behavior when I was a kid, and it should not fly now either. Especially with the church's hypocrisy on this issue.


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