Equality on the field?
Boys’s sports are treated differently than girls’ sports at high school, and that should change
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.
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.
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.