Sexism is unfortunately alive and well in JV football

Oct. 31, 2011

Aaron Collett
acollett@uccs.edu

There is a football player in Virginia who routinely gets up to four sacks a game. Her name is Mina Johnson, and she is the first girl to play for Southampton Academy’s junior varsity football program. This 5’2”, 170 pound girl plays defense and routinely sacks quarterbacks that have 8 inches of height on her.

But her accomplishments on the field apparently mean less than her sex.

Lasker Northeast Academy, in North Carolina, threatened to forfeit if Johnson was fielded. “Why?” I hear you cry. Because they didn’t want their boys playing against *gasp* a girl. In fact, another school, Word of God Christian Academy, is apparently also considering threatening a forfeit if Johnson plays. The issue, apparently, is that the league that Lasker and Word of God are a part of, North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association (NCISAA), has this fun little gem in their handbook:”Participation by boys in girls’ sports and girls in boys’ sports in any event hosted and/or sponsored by any NCISAA school is prohibited.” Let’s unpack this a little bit.

First of all, I can understand some of the logic in keeping boys and girls separate—it can be simply a physical capability issue. Please don’t misunderstand me; I am not casting aspersions on all women. However, in general, men will tend to be larger and stronger than females. So in some games, like football, there can be a legitimate concern for the health of the athlete. Unfortunately, that’s not the case here. NCISAA’s handbook lays out the definitions of boys’ and girls’ sports. Boys cannot participate in field hockey, softball, and volleyball. Girls are disallowed from baseball, football, lacrosse, or wrestling.

This is not a concern for any athlete. This is taking so-called “cultural norms” to a whole new psychotic level. What about baseball is inappropriate for girls? Haven’t you seen “A League of Their Own”? And volleyball for boys? The Men’s Olympic Volleyball Team would like a word with you.

I cannot figure out why NCISAA thinks that these sports, specifically, are gender specific. Oops, I made a mistake. They’re sex specific. NCISAA isn’t going to give you a pass if you happen to be transgender. So apparently, I’m not qualified to play volleyball directly as a result of being male. And that’s the issue. This is sexism, pure and simple. In their minds, volleyball is girly, and football is manly. Wouldn’t want a larger worldview to threaten your masculinity, would you? Oh no! What confusion! How do we know how to act if boys and girls are on the field at the same time!?

Anyway, Johnson sat out for the game on Oct. 6. She was not forced to. She volunteered to sit out so that her team would get to play a game. What an incredibly selfless thing to do. I can’t in good conscience say that I would have done the same thing in her place. She chose to put her teammates’ good over her own—even to the point of not taking what was essentially a free win on their stats.

But, as they say, what goes around comes around. Lasker got their comeuppance.

In the game against Lasker, Southampton smashed them 60-0. Holy crap. Talk about laser-guided karma. The best part? Southampton was wearing pink for breast cancer month. So Lasker got the beatdown by a whole team of guys wearing pink. Kind of puts your sexism in perspective, doesn’t it, Lasker?