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Have Your Say: Is There Ever an Excuse for Inequality?

Playing with boys has been a reality for young female athletes for decades. While all-girls teams are becoming more prevalent in most sports, especially in ice hockey, there are still circumstances that require girls to join up with the boys if they want to play.

These can be geographic, as in not having enough girls interested in one area to form a team, or there might not be a team of sufficient quality for girls playing at higher levels. In some sports like football, there simply may not be options for girls wanting to play. Some have succeeded in spite of this, like placekicker Becca Longo, who in 2017 became the first woman to receive a college football scholarship out of high school when she signed with Division II Adams State.

The Fighting Squirrels of Newfoundland, Canada, are a 12U softball team consisting of nine boys and two girls. While the Fighting Squirrels have boys’ and girls’ teams at the 14U and 16U levels, the girls do not have an option at 12U other than to play with the boys.

They entered a tournament recently and were told they could not be accepted because the tournament was not coed. The only alternative that was offered was that other teams who had girls on their rosters could join together and form a team.

If the Fighting Squirrels followed the alternative they would split up a team that’s been together all season just based on the rules of this tournament. That didn’t sit well with the Fighting Squirrels coaches. Tournament organizers were also in a tough position, as they hadn’t planned to set up a coed tournament.

The Fighting Squirrels had played their season with two girls, why couldn’t they just play in the tournament? What reason is there other than “those are the rules?” The tournament said they would review their practices for the next tournament. But if girls are already playing on these teams, why was it not reviewed earlier to avoid a situation like this?

What’s your take?

Take 1: It’s 2018, let the girls play

There’s simply no excuse not to let the girls play. They are full members of the team, and it is not only discriminatory, it’s not fair to their teammates. Even offering to form an all-girls team still leaves that problem. The only solution is to let these teams play as they are. Rules can always be changed.

Take 2: Rules are rules

Teams know the rules before entering a tournament, so these rules shouldn’t have been surprising. It’s unfortunate that these girls weren’t able to play, but if anything, the tournament just seems guilty of not revising its rules in time for the Fighting Squirrels to have their full roster. Not everything can change instantly. They weren’t prepared for a coed tournament and didn’t feel like they could change everything on short notice. In a perfect world, there would be equal opportunities for all young athletes, but there wasn’t much that could be done in this situation.

So, should the Fighting Squirrels have been allowed to play with their female teammates? Or were the tournament organizers right in following the rules? Have your say in the comments below.

From GameChanger and Todd Kortemeier

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youth softball, Youth sports, ethics in sports, baseball, softball, coed sports

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