The roar that will come from Caroline Pla’s supporters won’t be as loud as the one that rocked Vatican City yesterday when the new Pope was announced. But the cheers will no doubt be as heartfelt, for a great reason:
Caroline will be playing CYO football this fall, thanks to today’s decision by Archbishop Charles Chaput to allow co-ed participation in CYO football effective in the 2013 season.
Chaput’s decision is a touchdown for reasonableness, kindness and common sense.
"I am really excited and really happy," said Caroline, who learned the good news Thursday afternoon. "This means other girls who also want to play football will also be able to play. I am going to write to the archbishop and tell him thank you, because he's the one who has made me so happy."
Caroline, an 11-year-old Doylestown sixth grader, played defensive end and offensive guard for Our Lady of Mt. Carmel’s CYO football team, the Romans.
Her first season went well. But a few games into her second season, last fall, the archdiocese wanted her pulled from the team, since someone had complained that her participation violated the CYO’s boys-only football policy. (No one with the Romans had known of the policy.)
Caroline went public with the unfairness of it all. She appeared on Good Morning America, Ellen and a host of other local and national shows. And an online petition calling for her reinstatement garnered over 108,000 signatures.
Meantime, the archdiocese convened a panel to study the pros and cons of coed sports teams. The panel recommended that Archbishop Chaput stay with the boys-only policy.
But today Chaput made his own decision to allow coed CYO football participation.
The approval is provisional, says archdiocese spokesman Kenneth Gavin in a statement, “and the decision will be reviewed and revised in the coming several seasons, as judged appropriate by the Archdiocese.
“Alternate options had merit and may be revisited in the future to ensure that any CYO sports program fosters an enjoyable and safe atmosphere providing for proper human formation, sportsmanship and Christian maturity.”
Score a point for Caroline, and one for Chaput. He deserves "honorary captain" status at Caroline's first game, so he can flip the coin at the 50-yard line.