Powderpuff (sports)

In the United States and Canada, powderpuff football games are flag football or touch football games between girls from junior and senior classes or cross-town school rivals. Funds from the ticket and concession sales for the game typically go to charity, the senior class, or to a dance. The games are an annual tradition at many high schools and universities.

The term originates from the powder puff, the soft material used for the application of cosmetic face powder. The games usually occur before homecoming.

Many schools that participate in powderpuff games have created their own traditions. Some examples of traditions that make the event more entertaining for students are the creation of team uniform T-shirts for each of the classes, pre-game pep talks to get everyone "pumped", and special half-time performances from the class's male members, sometimes with them dressing up as cheerleaders.

It is not clear when the first powderpuff football game was played, although there is photographic evidence of it being played as early as 1931 at Western State College of Colorado (now Western State Colorado University) in Gunnison, Colorado.[1]

One of the first well-documented powderpuff football games was played on October 20, 1945, at Eastern State Teachers College, in Madison, South Dakota.[2] Eastern had cancelled many campus activities for the duration of World War II. Among these were the annual homecoming celebration and intercollegiate sports, including football[3] With the signing of the peace treaty with Japan on September 2, 1945, and the war’s official end, Homecoming was again on the schedule at Eastern. The traditional football game seemed out of the question, however, due to the wartime military draft. Just three men had enrolled for the fall term that year.[2]

"A bunch of us were sitting around after gym class and we thought, if we’re going to have Homecoming, we've got to have a football game," said Susie Lowry, who was a freshman at Eastern in 1945. "We decided we should have a game of our own."[4]

Robert C. Nelles, a freshman at Eastern that year, was on the Homecoming committee. The very idea of women playing football "was enough to curl your teeth", he wrote in an account of the game for the History of Lake County, but the committee nonetheless gave its approval for a game with all women players.[2]

There were two groups of Eastern coeds at the time: those who lived at their homes in Madison while attending classes on campus, and those from surrounding small towns who lived in the dorm. The 23 girls who wanted to play football divided into two teams, informally known as the Townies and Dormies.[4] On game day, the teams were designated Blue and Gold teams, respectively, which were Eastern’s school colors.[3]

Leota Van Ornum, Eastern's physical education teacher, served as coach for both teams. There was a high school on Eastern’s campus where students training to be teachers did their practice teaching. Robert Ormseth, who coached that school's football team, served as her assistant.[5]

"A fairly large group of spectators showed great interest and enthusiasm during the game," according to The Eastern, the campus newspaper.[3] Friends and family and alumni were surely well represented, because the twenty-three players constituted almost half of Eastern’s enrollment of fifty-three that term. Robert Nelles and Paul Tommeraasen, two of the three male students, were pressed into service as game officials.[2]

“We tried to be almost real, with huddles and all that," said Lowry. "There was a lot of clowning around. A few of us fell down, just to make it look good, but it wasn’t really rough or anything."[4]

The neophyte gridders proved more adept at defense than offense, with each team holding the other scoreless until the game's final minute. Doris Treloar of the Gold team finally broke through and scored a touchdown, which was immediately answered by Nancy Baughman of the Blue. Professor A.E. Swan, the librarian serving as the referee, considered that an opportune moment to end the contest on an amiable note.[4]

In its story about the game, the Madison Daily Leader dubbed the two teams "The Powderpuff and Rouge Elevens[5] The name was suggested because the women chose to poke fun at themselves by staying on the field at halftime and putting on fresh makeup before the amused spectators.[3]

Lyman Hall and Sheehan High School compete in Annual Samaha Bowl 2015

The first powderpuff football game of the modern era was held in 1972, in Wallingford, Connecticut. Judy Samaha, a physical education teacher and coach for Mark T. Sheehan High School at the time, began this sport to incorporate more girls into athletic activities. She contacted Lyman Hall High School, Sheehan's rival, to set up a small but fierce game between the schools. Since then, powderpuff football has spread over the nation, from neighboring towns in Connecticut to schools in California, Texas, and Florida. The annual Samaha bowl game still takes place the Wednesday before Thanksgiving as the longest running powderpuff game in the country.

The tradition was adopted in Massachusetts at schools such as Pope John XXIII High School where underclass girls faced upperclass girls. The tradition still lives with schools like Mystic Valley Regional Charter School playing once a year the day before Thanksgiving Day, or St. David's School in Raleigh, NC, which attracts a stadium full of spectators for a high-energy game under the lights.

Team Blonde Takes the Field during Blondes vs. Brunettes Powderpuff Football Game
Team Blonde at the 2011 Blondes vs. Brunettes powder puff football game in Washington, D.C.
Powder puff football
Junior and senior girls face off in a high school powderpuff flag football game

Blondes vs. brunettes charity football

Blondes vs. Brunettes is a powderpuff football game played in cities across the United States.[6] Proceeds from the event are donated to the Alzheimer's Association. The annual contests were started by Sara Allen Abbott whose father, Texas State Representative Joseph Hugh Allen, died of Alzheimer's disease in 2008. Looking for a way to raise funds for the Alzheimer's Association, Abbott organized a powderpuff football game in tribute to her father, a lifelong football fan.

In the fall of 2005, the first blonde vs. brunette powder puff football game was played at Hains Point in Washington, D.C. and raised $10,000. Subsequently, the game searched for a more suitable home and moved around the Washington, D.C area before settling in at George Washington University’s Mount Vernon Athletic Field in 2009. The game has received considerable publicity to include feature articles in The Washington Post and local TV stations and has raised over $500,000 in the national capital area alone. Blondes vs. Brunettes Charity Football is currently played in 16 cities in the United States. Abbott plans to continue the expansion to more cities and eventually establish a "Blondes vs. Brunettes Super Bowl."[7][8]


Gender Roles

Despite widespread popularity of powderpuff games, they have faced backlash for enforcing gender stereotypes. Teachers and parents alike have criticized the games for "demeaning women's athletic ability", citing how the name implies that girls are fragile and only fit to play flag football.[9] There is also the argument that girls should feel like they are able to play football whenever they want, and having to have a special spectacle just for female students to participate in a male-dominated sport is a mockery of the abilities of female athletes.[10]


Powderpuff games have also come under fire for encouraging violence between peers, especially at some schools where junior girls are subject to hazing by the senior class. In 2003, two Chicago area high-schools participated in hazing that led to five girls being hospitalized. School officials noted that the game was not an official, school-sanctioned activity and the school did not promote, plan, or even know about the event.[11]

See also


  1. ^ Barker, Brian. "Director of Marketing". Western State Colorado University. Retrieved February 4, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d Nelles, Robert (1995). History of Lake County. Lake County Historical Society. pp. 342–344.
  3. ^ a b c d "Eastern Day is Again Held". The Eastern. October 1945.
  4. ^ a b c d Holtzmann, Roger (Nov–Dec 2011). "Lady Leatherheads". South Dakota Magazine. 27 (4).
  5. ^ a b "Football Game Played by Debs". Madison Daily Leader. October 22, 1945.
  6. ^ Blondes vs. Brunettes Powderpuff Fundraiser
  7. ^ The Washington Post. "Athletes First, Stylistas Second". November 19, 2011, pg. A13
  8. ^ The Washington Post. "Hair's the Thing: Blondes vs. Brunettes is a Win-Win" Archived 2016-03-04 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved March 12, 2012.
  9. ^ Denebola. "Denebola » Article » Powderpuff ignites controversy over gender roles". www.denebolaonline.net. Retrieved 2016-11-23.
  10. ^ Denebola. "Denebola » Article » A fresh take on the yearly Powderpuff debate". www.denebolaonline.net. Retrieved 2016-11-23.
  11. ^ "USATODAY.com - 'Powder puff' hazing turns ugly". usatoday30.usatoday.com. Retrieved 2016-11-23.
International Academy of Macomb

The International Academy of Macomb (IAM) is a public high school in Macomb County, Michigan located in the Chippewa Valley 9th Grade Center in Clinton Township. The school opened in the spring of 2008 and is an International Baccalaureate school as of early 2010. The first two years at the IAM consist of International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme courses . After these two years, students will begin the International Baccalaureate program, which lasts for two years. All IB students will have to complete 150 'CAS' hours (creativity, action, service) throughout the two IB years. After all four years are completed, students will partake in several IB exams in order to receive their IB diploma. The students at the IAM get an understanding of the world through many great books, including Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, The Odyssey by Homer, and The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Although it is an IB school, the IAM is still considered a public school, but it requires students to pass a test and get drawn in a lottery to become enrolled. There is no tuition required for students, but there is an initial $150 fee that will cover computer fees. Each student will receive his or her own laptop that will be used throughout the four years at the IAM, and any damage can usually be fixed with a re-imaging, including physical damage to the laptop.

Mark T. Sheehan High School

Mark T. Sheehan High School is a public high school located at 142 Hope Hill Road, Wallingford, Connecticut. It is part of the Wallingford Public School System, and one of two public high schools in Wallingford, Lyman Hall High School being the other. Its official colors are burgundy and gold. Sheehan High School is known for having started the tradition known as Powderpuff (sports). The first game was played in Wallingford, Connecticut between Sheehan and Lyman Hall High School.

Powder Puff Derby (1947)

The Powder Puff Derby was the name given to an annual transcontinental air race for women pilots inaugurated in 1947. For the next two years it was named the "Jacqueline Cochran All-Woman Transcontinental Air Race" (AWTAR). It was dubbed the "Powder Puff Derby" in reference to the 1929 Women's Air Derby by humorist and aviation advocate Will Rogers.

In 1977, rising costs, insurance premiums, and diminished corporate sponsorship saw the competition come to an end after thirty years. After the commemorative final flight, the Air Race Classic continued the tradition for women pilots.

Powder puff

Powder puffs are pieces of soft material used for the application of face powder. They may be shaped as balls or pads.

Historically, powder puffs have been made of very fine down feathers, cotton, fine fleece, etc. In modern times synthetic materials are widely used for powder puffs.

In addition to softness, an important characteristic of powder puffs is their intake ability, i.e., the ability to hold powder. It was reported that for synthetic fibers important factors in designing high-intake powder puffs are mostly geometric ones: fiber diameter, pile length, and space between fibers, with little dependence on material factors.Powder puffs have been used as a stereotype image for soft, careless femininity, as seen, e.g., in the term "powderpuff sports", including collegiate sorority flag football leagues. The name of the Powerpuff Girls is a pun on "powder puff".American inventor Ellene Alice Bailey (1853-1897) patented several versions of powder puffs and has been described as "America’s powder puff pioneer".

Powder puff (disambiguation)

Powder puff is a piece of soft material used for the application of powder. The term may also refer to one of the following:

Powderpuff (sports), female divisions for typically male sports, in some contexts

"Powder puff", a type of ballet tutu

Powder-puff plant (disambiguation), several plants

Powderpuff, a type of the Chinese Crested Dog breed

Women's American football

Women's gridiron football, more commonly known as women's American football, women's Canadian football, or simply women's football, is a form of gridiron football (American or Canadian) played by women. Most leagues play by the same rules as their male counterparts, with one exception: women's leagues use a slightly smaller football. Women primarily play on a semi-professional or amateur level in the United States. Very few high schools or colleges offer the sport solely for women and girls; however, on occasion, it is permissible for a female player to join the otherwise male team.

The first evidence of women playing organized football was in 1926. It was then that an NFL team called the Frankford Yellow Jackets (the predecessors to the modern Philadelphia Eagles) employed a women's team for halftime entertainment.

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