Easy Columbus: Power Puff football

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

The Ohio State football team won't be the only ones taking the field Saturday. The first Power Puff football tournament sponsored by the It's Abuse campaign kicked off last week, with the finals scheduled for Saturday.

Eight all-women teams were narrowed down to two, and they'll compete for the championship following the Buckeyes' Spring Game.

Developed by the Columbus Coalition Against Family Violence, It's Abuse targets relationship abuse on college campuses. The initiative raises awareness of the warning signs of physical, verbal and emotional abuse and educates students about maintaining healthy relationships.

The idea behind recruiting women to play a male-dominated sport is to prove that with enough courage - and the tools It's Abuse offers - anything is possible, explained Jamie Gaynes, president of the student group at OSU.

"When the women of this league take the field, they are not competing for points or yards," Gaynes said. "They are playing for all people across all gender, race and sexual-orientation lines who are unable to come out and fight back for themselves because they have been silenced by abuse. Every time they fall and stand back up, they are standing up for this injustice to end."

Powder puff football was seen as a popular way to engage young women, said Karen Patterson, assistant vice president for internal communications for OSU and adviser to the It's Abuse chapter. The brackets were open to all female students, and teams of seven to 14 were quickly filled on a first-come, first-serve basis.

"It conjures up the notion of young women keeping or regaining control over their lives," Patterson said. "That's key to helping those students who do find themselves in abusive relationships."

Since OSU piloted the campaign in 2006, thousands of students have signed a pledge to end abuse. The program has extended to eight other local colleges.

"It's Abuse is now an official student organization [at Ohio State], which allows us to provide actual classroom programming," Patterson said."The student group works closely with staff in the Student Wellness Center office also to develop a variety of special events to reach students - health fairs, movies and now powder puff football games."

The championship game will begin at about 4 p.m. after the Spring Game. It will be played on the turf fields behind the Recreation and Physical Activity Center on the OSU campus.

Rachel Sova is a senior Journalism major at Ohio State University

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