From high school to college and the professional level, men and women have long competed in separate divisions in sports. What if the idea of men and women competing against each other unofficially was normalized?
This is not to say that men’s and women’s leagues should be combined and compete in official games during their seasons, but instead to open an opportunity for scheduled practices or scrimmages where teams can play against and challenge each other across leagues.
When I played basketball in high school, scrimmaging against my own team or the team below us was difficult. All the teams have similar offensive plays and play at different levels. We were able to continue to practice, but we never played against different competitors until an official game.
Then, we had the idea of scrimmaging against our boys’ varsity team to be able to compete against higher competition. This prospect made us work harder and focus more on our team communication; it was one of the best practices we ever had.
If you grew up with siblings, you probably played sports with each other, like basketball in my case. I played with my older brother and sister and even though I was the smallest, I learned to play smart so I could compete against them.
My experiences playing against older, taller and stronger athletes helped me become a better athlete because I had to work harder and learn how to use my talent and skills to play smart.
Thinking back to high school sports, I wonder if my basketball or even volleyball career could have been different if we were able to scrimmage against our boy’s teams. I could have developed a better skillset, learned to play smarter and learned to challenge myself.
Looking back to playing soccer as a seven-year-old, the teams were co-ed and we learned how to play with and against each other. Why does it have to stop once you get to the higher competition levels?
The fact that men and women competing together hasn’t been normalized sooner is due to existing doubts. For example, there are physical differences in the way men and women are built and this can factor into how they compete; however, both men and women develop skillsets in their sport and that physicality won’t matter in the end.
The Perspective presents both sides of the argument on allowing men and women to compete against each other. Physicality can make a difference, but talent is also reflected in how they play. Both men and women made it to varsity, college or professional teams because they have talent, skill, hardworking ethics and the ability to continue to be challenged.
College teams like UCCS can use this concept to develop their skills and better prepare their teams for games or meets. Not only would this improve the teams’ performance, but this type of competition is fun for the players. You want your team to win, perform well and get better, but you also want them to have fun.
Normalizing practice competition between men and women would give them the practice they need and allow them to have fun because there is nothing on the line.