Article by: James Y.
Edited by: Margarita T.
Visual by: Sandra R.
When you think of sports, and its reputation as a professional industry, what comes to mind is a often a notion of men, asserting their dominance over the field to captivate an audience unified in their support for the World Cup. Or maybe you think of how male tennis players have been celebrated for snapping at umpires, but Serena Williams was punished for it. For ISM, a school grounded by its principles of an inclusive community, student athletes are always first to discern the small differences that lie between sports for both genders in a critical light, which may reflect an underlying issue on the international scale.
Undoubtedly, both sport and gender equality are critical aspects of students’ wellbeing at ISM. Therefore, the concept of some sports — full-contact/tackle rugby being defined separately for boys with touch rugby for girls, and the option of baseball for males versus softball for females — reveal a questionable imbalance our athletes are expected to follow.
When asked about the controversy regarding rationales for why games are separated for the competitive sport he coaches, varsity touch coach, Mr. Ellmers, says that “both genders have the potential to enjoy the other sport more,” as he enumerates the instances where “full-contact rugby is undertaken by female athletes in other schools, who fully enjoy its competition.” The only real justification restricting our school’s access to open touch/rugby is the difficult coordination of logistics for two separate sports being forced into a single competition setting.
Varsity softball coach, Ms. Respecki, abides to this perspective, adding that the nature of fast pitch softball renders the sport for girls “a completely different sport,” than for boys’ baseball, however adds that “the participation of athletes doesn’t mean one sport is more difficult than the other.”
On the other hand, an anonymous Junior involved in the JV touch team aims to shed light on the sexism she thinks touch rugby evokes against girls, stating, “girls should have the option to partake in the same competition, albeit for more concerns on their safety,” with the experience in both full-contact and touch rugby settings. While concerns for safety pertain, differences like these “come from a place of such prejudice against a woman’s physical capabilities.”
While the coaches perspectives remain unanimously neutral, a consensus appears to be for students that females remain underrepresented in the sports they play. While the gender equality debate is expected to continue our athletics director Mr. Pekin says that it is important to recognize “there is an ongoing evolution towards gender neutral sports, however until IASAS begins to champion these changes, our school shall continue to abide by its convention. The last thing we want to do is restrict what different genders are capable of.”