This post has nothing to do with quilting but it’s something that has been taking up my thoughts and energy lately. I fell like I need to share it.
My daughters are very into athletics. It’s their thing and they have put more work into improving their skills than I ever though was really possible. During complete quarantine they’d go out to the shed and work on basketball for at least an hour a day, six days a week. We didn’t have to tell them to go – they just did it. If one of us popped in the shed to get something we were pleasantly surprised to see just how hard they were working. I don’t really even know how to describe it but I know I never had that motivation as a kid! Anyway – when they were finally able to play again they were thrilled. There have been a lot of “hoops” to jump through to have this happen – wearing masks while playing (as soon as my girls found out they’d have to wear masks on the court they started training at home with masks on), limited opportunities to play due to many facilities closing to outsiders, limited fans in the stands, and strict quarantine protocols as needed – but even through this all the girls have given it their all. Unfortunately now they have another hoop to jump through which I will let them tell you about in the letter below.
This following is the letter the 8th grade girls have put together to help raise awareness to what is going on:
We found out this year that the 2021 Wisconsin State Invitational Championship Tournament was cancelled. We were extremely disappointed as it had been cancelled last year due to COVID. We know things are definitely harder to plan and organize this year but we had hope. When we initially found out the tournament we cancelled we assumed WSICT had cancelled the state invitational tournaments for all teams. We were wrong. They are still hosting a 7th and 8th grade boys tournament.
We realize that this tournament is run by a private company – the Great Northwest Basketball League (GNBL.org) – but that doesn’t mean they have made the right decision. Our team reached out to the organizers of the event and were disappointed by their response:
I can absolutely understand the questions, disappointment and upset at the way things have turned out this year. We spent the seven months trying to make any of these events happen and in December and January, focused solely on trying to find host schools to hold the WSICT events for only the 8th grade boys and the 8th grade girls. We contacted over 50 different programs from throughout the state, brainstorming and negotiating ways to make those two grades happen.
In all circumstances where we have a team or school that is willing to host the event, we have led them to host either 8th grade boys or girls, but in the end, some programs are focused only on boys or only on girls. On January 28 we lost the last program that had been willing to host for the 8th grade girls when their school board told them they could not host more than one local team at a time. This is when we had to make the decision to let coaches know that we could not make the event happen this year for the 8th grade girls, as well as the other grades.
The new host for the 7th grade boys event contacted us on Friday morning, January 29. The program is a boys basketball club and has pulled together enough courts. I spoke at length to the two schools that are hosting, to see if either could be persuaded to host the girls instead of the boys, but their boards would not agree to it.
I am truly sorry that the girls will miss out on this opportunity and wish something could have been worked out. Thank you for your past support –
Let’s take a moment to break this down. Yes – we know things are difficult with COVID and it is really hard to find venues willing to host tournaments this year. But, we know for a fact that our coach offered to host Division III in the Poynette area facilities. Our school district has been hosting tournaments since January with strict rules on mask wearing and social distancing that has gone smoothly.
Unfortunately what the program describes is a culture of sexism in which the schools the GNBL choose to partner with elevate boys’ sports over girls’. This kind of systemic discrimination is unacceptable and if they couldn’t find a school to host the girls, they should have cancelled all the tournaments. This decision sends a dangerous message to aspiring female athletes, and perpetuates the gender inequality that has been present so long in sports. By simply accepting the situation as it is and continuing forward we are reinforcing and strengthening this inequality. Imagine if schools said “we can’t host your whole teams- we will only allow boys with brown hair/over 6 feet tall/having names that start with A-M to play”? Would you be supportive then of excluding half your athletes? If not, why is ok to exclude based on gender?
Another option for making this whole situation fair for both boys and girls is to invite half the typical number of boys teams and half the typical number of girls teams. This year, instead of having a separate boys and girls tournament – have one tournament that highlights the best of the best boys and girls teams.
At this point, we as young, aspiring female athletes are extremely disappointed in the decisions of the GNBL and the hosting venues. There were definitely ways to make this event fair and equal for both the boys and girls teams yet the company chose not too. We want everyone to know that we realize that this is something that should just not be happening in 2021.
signed ~ The 8th Grade Poynette Girls Basketball Team
photos by Leslie Seas of White Willow Studios.
The girls created tshirt with the help of their art teacher Anne Crawford. Any profit made from the sale of the shirt will go to https://www.playitforwardsport.org/.
You can purchase by clicking HERE.
Andrea Fleiner says
The right thing to happen would be if the boys out of solidarity would agree to not play as well.
But I have little hope that this is what goes thorugh the boys, their parents or coaches minds, and until it does we are trapped in that mindset everyone for themselves and unwilling to stand up for others who are being discriminated against.
Lisa England says
Bravo to those young athletes! They have good ideas and they have presented them in a logical and mature way. Whether they get the outcome they desire in this situation or not, their determination will serve them well in life.
I got the same response. This is ridiculous. By allowing boys to play, they are allowing women to continue to be ignored. I see this EVERY day at work. Brilliant minds are being ignored so the make ego can survive. By allowing these boys to play, we are telling them they matter more than their female counterparts and this attitude will carry on into their adult years. This needs to be addressed NOW!
Leigh Ann says
How can we help (in addition to buying the shirts)?
You could write to the company – gnbl.org if you’d like and ask them why. Once I find out the info for the schools hosting we’ll also be writing to them.
Consider getting this more public through television news media, local and national to get the word out. So many people are not aware of situations like this and the ramifications. Boys/Men, such as my son/husband see the validity of this. Why are there not other men standing up and doing something about this.
I shared your blog post to a FB group with similar responses as above. Some have asked for an update to the story.
In the meantime, discrimination in women sports continues:
Unfortunately there is no update. They WSICT is sticking to their original plan of just hosting the boys and nothing has been done to right this wrong.