Equal­ity on the field?

Boys’s sports are treated dif­fer­ently than girls’ sports at high school, and that should change

The Peterborough Examiner - - LIFE - EL­IZ­A­BETH SARGEANT

I don’t do sports. I don’t like run­ning. I don’t like tack­ling. I don’t like wak­ing up early for prac­tices and I cer­tainly don’t like uni­forms. But what I do like is ob­serv­ing. And an ob­ser­va­tion I have made over the years of sit­ting on the side­lines and cheer­ing for friends is that male ath­letes get an ex­ceed­ingly larger amount of at­ten­tion, hype - and what I just re­cently dis­cov­ered – bud­get­ing, for the same ac­tiv­i­ties that my fe­male friends and LLS (learn­ing life skills) stu­dents are do­ing.

The ladies and LLS ath­letes at my school put in the same amount of sweat, blood and tears into their prac­tices and yet they still re­ceive less at­ten­tion and ap­pre­ci­a­tion than the male ath­letes who com­mit as much prac­tice but some of the time, brings home a smaller award.

In 2012, the Olympics fi­nally wel­comed fe­male ath­letes from ev­ery coun­try and it was considered a huge win on be­half of women in the sports world. Un­for­tu­nately, that rev­o­lu­tion­ary suc­cess has not made its way to Peter­bor­ough.

In nearly ev­ery high school, the ath­let­ics depart­ment dom­i­nates. There are few pic­tures posted for art com­pe­ti­tions or mu­si­cals. Stu­dent coun­cil will or­ga­nize a dance or the Eco-Club will raise a large sum of money and only few are in­formed. The boys win a foot­ball game and every­one seems to know.

High school is made for every­one, but not every­one is cel­e­brated. The pat­tern of male-dom­i­nated sec­tors re­ceiv­ing the most at­ten­tion is not sur­pris­ing. This oc­curs in a ma­jor­ity of work fields but it can be traced straight back to high school. It’s im­por­tant to sup­port young woman and peo­ple in the LLS streams at all times, but show­ing sup­port for sports teams (where the play­ers are typ­i­cally a marginal­ized) is an ex­cel­lent place to start.

Sport teams are the breed­ing grounds for com­pet­i­tive drive and teenage bond­ing and no one should be ex­cluded from this. It is not to say some groups of peo­ple are dis­ad­van­taged but it is less of an en­cour­age­ment to join a sports team if no one knows about it. I be­lieve more fe­male ath­letes would be en­cour­aged to try out for a sport if they knew that the sport team was go­ing to be sup­ported by the whole school.

This com­mu­nity loudly ad­vo­cates for di­ver­sity and eq­uity within in the class­room but when it comes to play­ing on the fields, they’re much qui­eter. They can claim all they want that girls are as much wel­come in the sports world be­cause “we let girls on the foot­ball team” but when it comes down to the nitty gritty, women are not seen as im­por­tant on the play­ing field.

When there is a boys’ rugby game, we can pay a toonie to leave class to watch. When there’s a girl’s rugby game, we have to text one of the team mem­bers to see what the score was.

The LLS Bas­ket­ball team took their skills all the way to provin­cials last sea­son, I didn’t find out about this un­til last week.

Imag­ine a gym­na­sium com­pletely packed with stu­dents of ev­ery walk of life cheer­ing on the LLS bas­ket­ball game. Or the en­tire school sit­ting out on the bleach­ers to watch the girls play lacrosse. This isn’t com­pletely unattain­able.

Small ini­tia­tives such as rent­ing a fan bus for girls rugby or let­ting more peo­ple know what is hap­pen­ing in the Special Olympics of the LLS Stream makes the ath­let­ics side of high schools seem a lit­tle more open. At one high school, they had a clapout for the award win­ning LLS ath­letes that brought back awards for their school from a tour­na­ment. As an ob­server, I won’t be sat­is­fied if I sink a win­ning shot dur­ing bas­ket­ball or a score a touch­down at a foot­ball game. But I will be sat­is­fied, when I get to miss my last-pe­riod class to see a fe­male or learn­ing life skills stu­dent do it.

With more sup­port and ac­knowl­edge­ment for girl and LLS sports teams, the school will be­come a much more pos­i­tive and all-in­clu­sive en­vi­ron­ment for every­one. El­iz­a­beth Sargeant is an Adam Scott stu­dent on an in­tern­ship in The Ex­am­iner’s news­room.

CLIF­FORD SKARSTEDT/THE EX­AM­INER

Holy Cross Hur­ri­canes' Mor­gan Gullek­son, left, fights for the ball in a li­ne­out against Bay­side dur­ing first half COSSA ju­nior AA girls' rugby cham­pi­onship ac­tion on Nov. 2 at Holy Cross Sec­ondary School in Peter­bor­ough. Holy Cross edged Bay­side 12-10.

CLIF­FORD SKARSTEDT/THE EX­AM­INER

Adam Scott Lions' Tren­ton Jen­nings loses the ball against Crest­wood Mus­tangs' Owen Peter­son dur­ing first half Kawartha high school foot­ball ju­nior semi­fi­nal ac­tion on Oct. 31 at Adam Scott Col­le­giate in Peter­bor­ough.

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