Should We Integrate Boys and Girls?
By Sam Civil :)
Imagine that Beatrice, an athlete, loves to play football with her brothers and has always dreamed of being on a team. When she goes to middle school, she sees a flyer for the boys’ football team, but the only other flyer she sees is for girls’ cheerleading. It upsets her, but regardless, she tries out. A few days later, Beatrice finds out that she can’t be on the team. And why is that? Because she’s a girl. The coach tells her that she’s a phenomenal player, but the team is not co-ed. So what does she do now? Allowing girls to compete on boys’ athletic teams improves skills and provides girls with better opportunities.
According to the article, Making An Informed Decision About Girls’ Participation On Boys’ Teams, “There is no evidence that injury is related to gender or size.” Gender has nothing to do with risks in contact sports, provided that the teams have players that match in skill, size and strength. If a female athlete wishes to play on the boys’ football team, or any other boys’ team, she should be able to! And it wouldn't be a surprise if she falls and fractures her hand by accident while being tackled, because the same thing could happen to any other player. Up to the ages of 10-12, girls are usually more physically advanced than boys, being heavier and taller (Making An Informed Decision About Girls’ Participation on Boys’ Sports Teams). It would only be fair for both genders to compete together, since the risks of getting hurt are the same. If boys can compete with girls prior to puberty, than girls can compete with boys after.
A skilled female athlete may wish to compete on boys’ teams because of better practice times, opportunities, and so on (Making An Informed Decision About Girls’ Participation on Boys’ Teams). Boys’ teams also may have better equipment than girls’ teams. Also, according to the ADM, “ The level of play may be better because of sheer numbers meaning more competitive practices and leagues.” Maybe there are boys’ athletic travel teams, but not girls’ because there are more boys that sign up. But what about the group of girls dreaming to travel to different states to compete? What do they do? Because there are more boys’ teams than girls’ teams, there is access to more local competition (ADM). It would make sense for a female athlete to wish to play on a boys’ athletic team because girls usually don't receive as many resources, and male athletes tend to get more opportunities.
Prior to puberty, girls and boys have little physiological differences such as weight, height, bone width, and more. So, girls and boys match each other in all the factors that apply to athletics, and therefore should be able to compete together. Before puberty, there aren’t any gender-based physiological reasons to separate boys and girls in sports games and practices (Women’s Sports Foundation). Also, if girls enjoy playing with boys they shouldn’t be limited to only same-sex teams. According to the article, Making An Informed Decision About Girls’ Participation on Boys’ Sports Teams, “Other factors besides size and strength affect performance, including training, genetics, fitness, motivation, health, and emotional maturity. Girls can be equal to or surpass boys in any of these areas.” Additionally, the Women’s Sports Foundation states that “growth rates vary so much within and between the sexes that children prior to puberty should be matched by height, weight and skill when participating in contact sports.” If girls can match and surpass boys in athletics, why can't they play with them?
Integrated teams can be highly effective in physical improvement for both boys and girls, as long as their coaches make sure to meet the girls’ needs for positive reinforcement and developing skills (Making An Informed Decision About Girls’ Participation on Boys’ Sports Teams). Plus, it gives them a chance to make friends and get better acquainted with the boys that may go to their school. A girl that plays on a boys or mostly boys’ sports team could even go to sit with them at lunch instead of sitting with the big group of girls that all sit together. Sports brings people together. The ADM states that “Offering competition with the boys provides girls with a different type of competitive experience that could increase overall participation by drawing girls into sport who previously chose to remain on the sidelines because they did not want to participate on same-sex teams.” For example, you may enjoy playing baseball better than softball. That shouldn't make a girl not play because the baseball team is an all-boys team. If a female athlete can play baseball as well as a boy who is on a team can, she should definitely choose and be allowed to play baseball with the boys. “Opening boys’ teams to girls should not be viewed as a loss of participation for the girls’ teams, but a broadening of opportunities for girls to compete”, the ADM says. When competing with boys, girls tend to be better players.
Many people argue that it’s unfair for boys to compete with girls because they’re more physically advanced. However, there will always be exceptions in how girls grow, and there are other qualities that are needed for competition, according to the article, Making An Informed Decision About Girls’ Participation on Boys’ Sports Teams, “Other factors besides size and strength affect performance, including training, genetics, fitness, motivation, health, and emotional maturity. Girls can be equal to or surpass boys in any of these areas.”
Allowing girls to compete on boys’ athletic teams is necessary because though they are treated differently before puberty, boys and girls are the same, and risks in contact sports have nothing to do with gender. Also, boys’ teams may have better resources than the girls’ teams, and when girls compete with boys, they will learn to be better players. Integrating sports teams is crucial because it provides a sense of unity, equality, and sportsmanship to both boys and girls. One example of solving this problem through a practical solution is creating a petition to start the process of change. This process will either help Beatrice be accepted to the football team, or students like me integrate the OMS track teams. The petition will start the process of change because first, the students will sign it, and then it will be given to all the sports coaches, who then will consider the students’ opinions and hopefully make a move towards integrating the teams of the school. Our actions will make a move towards inspiring other schools to integrate as well, and this idea will gain widespread attention.