I just wanted to take a moment to update everyone on what is happening with the Great Northwest Basketball League decision on hosting a tournament for just the 7th and and 8th grade boys this season and not offering an opportunity for the girls. (The original post is HERE.) Unfortunately, nothing happened. Nothing changed. There was no apology or even admitting they did anything wrong.
We did get an even longer response about the reasoning behind their choices.
Dear Poynette 8th Grade Girls Basketball Team and concerned parents and athletes,
We understand your outrage and disappointment at the major impact that Covid 19 has dealt to your basketball career. Last spring and this entire season have been exceedingly difficult for everyone, and we are truly sorry that your 8th grade season is ending in this way.
We have received several emails pointing out the sexism and inequality that you perceive to be a part of our decision. Although there is no way to prove it, this was not the case. The Great Northwest Basketball League was started 25 years ago as a girls only league. All League staff have daughters who have played and there has never been a time when we thought of a decision as “let’s do this for boys but not for girls.”
The decision on whether or not to hold the Wisconsin State Invitational Championship Tournament this season was based solely on the ability to find schools that could host an event that would allow at least 16 teams into a building at one time. In October, we sent emails to every team that was signed up to participate in last year’s events – all of these events were cancelled due to Covid-19 except for two girls events held for 5th grade girls and 6th grade girls. In that email, we asked for anyone able to host, requesting at least four courts in a school district that would allow spectators and concessions, as well as a group to run the event and adequate hotel space in the immediate area. [***Let’s just be clear – this was ONLY the case because Covid-19 closed everything down before the other teams could have their tournaments. The 5th and 6th grade girls tournaments were held in February – before everything shut down***]
You are correct that the Poynette coach offered to host Division 3 for the 8th grade girls. They were not turned down; they were put into our records as we sought out possibilities to host the other Divisions. From October through December, we contacted coaches and teams from throughout the State, however, most schools were not able to have in-person learning and were closed to even their own school teams practicing. The majority of schools in Wisconsin were unable to host even a small meet with three or four teams, with limited or no fans able to attend. As we moved into December and January, we focused all of our efforts on simply making the event happen for 8th grade teams – both girls and boys.
At the end of January, we had several schools working to see if they could host the girls events, but none were able to. On January 28, the last potential host (other than Poynette) was told they could not use their courts due to Covid 19 restrictions. With Poynette offering to host only the Division 3 field, it would have been unfair to the other teams in Divisions 1, 2, 4 and 5. Your coach did contact us after we cancelled the 8th grade girls WSICT on January 29, saying that Poynette was organizing an independent event for Division 3 teams.
Some of the suggestions that were made would also severely limit the number of teams that would be able to participate in the event for the 8th graders. Having a smaller event for boys and girls would mean that we would be able to invite approximately twelve to twenty teams in each grade. We would then have had to choose which teams could participate. Some choices we discussed were to invite only the top three or four teams from each Division or invite only the Division 1 teams because they are the largest or only small schools because they often have fewer opportunities to play. None of these options would be equitable to the entire field of 8th grade teams. We could have chosen to cancel the 8th and 7th grade events for boys because there were no host sites for girls. Last season we were able to hold two WSICT events, both of those were for girls. If the situation were reversed and we had only found girls teams that had the ability to host the WSICTs this season, we would not want to deprive them of the opportunity to play simply because there were no teams with the ability to host the corresponding boys events. The shut downs caused by this pandemic have made decisions extraordinarily difficult in many different aspects of life, and many of these situations are not ideal compared with the experiences people have had in the past.
In the end, the determination we made on January 29 was based on the fact that two teams of 8th grade boys and two teams of 7th grade boys were able to access their facilities and had the ability to sponsor an event with a larger number of teams attending. On that date, we had no additional facilities to host for any other grade. It was an extremely tough decision to cancel six of the eight WSICT events for 8th grade girls, 7th grade girls, 6th grade girls, 5th grade girls, 6th grade boys and 5th grade boys, but teams needed to know so they could plan the rest of their season.
Several people have asked if we could still host for the girls and we would be absolutely thrilled to do so. However, no team has come forward with access to facilities to host the event for a larger number of teams. Many teams have commented in the past that once we get to April, they are moving on to softball, track, volleyball or AAU. Unfortunately, even now with the vaccine available to some, and Covid rates dropping, many schools remain under strict attendance guidelines and are forced to restrict the number of people allowed into a building.
We feel terrible about all of the young athletes who will miss out on this tournament. We understand how devastating this is for your 8th grade year. We know from our experiences with the many coaches, parents and players who were simply gutted last year by the sudden and horrible shut down of their 8th grade event or their High School State appearance. We wish you all the best as you move on to your high school teams and hope that the pandemic is over soon so we can watch your team play at the WIAA State Tournament over the next four years.
If it is any consolation, you can be assured that your intelligent, strong, heartfelt assertions have guaranteed that your younger sisters will not face the same situation in the future. Once the Covid restrictions have lifted, we will always have WSICT events for both girls and boys just as we have for the nineteen years before this horrible pandemic.
Great Northwest Basketball League
I still don’t agree with the decision made by the GNBL on even though I 100% understand what a challenge Covid-19 has made for hosting basketball this season. I don’t agree that offering a smaller state tournament for both boys and girls wouldn’t have been fair. That would have been significantly more fair than what has happened even if that meant my daughter’s team wouldn’t have been invited. This state tournament should not have happened at all unless it could have been done for both boys and girls. The GNBL decided it was better to discriminate based on gender than discriminating based on size (i.e. they wouldn’t do only a division 3 girls tournament but they would do only boys). At the very least, the GNBL needs to stop making excuses for their decision, own up to the fact that they didn’t think it through on how their choice would impact the girls by only offering this special event for the boys. I’ve definitely done things and made choices without thinking things all the way through. I try my best to realize when I do that and then apologize for my error and try to make it right. This whole situation was not right.
On a positive note the T-Shirts are done!
I did a little photo shoot with the girls outside since the weather was so beautiful.
We raised $135 and it was donated to Play it Forward Sport. Thank you to all who ordered. If you’re shirts haven’t gotten to you yet they should be coming soon.
I do know at the very least all of this has made my daughter’s made more aware when things happening around them are not equal. My daughter was the first one to send me the link to the video Sedona Prince made showing the inequality happening in the men vs women NCAA tournament. It was awesome to see that the gender inequality happening in sports was getting some real attention. Now let’s keep speaking up, sharing inequity we see, and let’s make a change.