The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

October 11, 2013

Seeing both sides of issue

Daily Item

---- — I would like to comment on Superintendent Wesley Knapp's letter in regards to boys playing on sports teams that are traditionally girls teams. I have an unique position on this issue as I had a daughter that played for four years against other teams with boys playing, and currently have a son playing on the girls field hockey team for his school.

At the time when my daughter was playing against boys, I too had reservations as I did notice that boys are "traditionally" stronger and faster than there female counterparts. I have seen what Superintendant Knapp mentioned boys that came out and muscled there way through a game which obviously creates concern for safety. I have also seen the other side, boys playing with skill that they worked on to compete in this sport.

Although I have heard this argument about safety several times over the years, I have yet to see any data indicating the actual injuries that were a direct result of boys hurting girls on the field. Also, in my seven years watching the sport, I have never seen an injury caused by boys playing.

I, as well as a lot of others, would be interested in seeing the numbers.

Anyhow, my current stance is that the PIAA officials officiating field hockey have the duty and obligation to enforce the rules for both genders equally. I have seen that officials are more critical when making calls against boys playing at times, and I am OK with that. In a sport like field hockey, the rules are the rules and are not lessened in any way to account for a gender issue, as it is in say sports like volleyball, where the nets are lower for the girls, and boys can take advantage of that. I would argue that if officials are doing their job, they can adequately enforce the rules in field hockey so that both genders are able to compete on a level playing field.

Of course, in Superintendent Knapp's opinion letter he does not address the girls playing on boys teams issue. Not sure if this is even going to be looked at by PIAA and to be honest, I do not think they should. I feel that if a team sport "traditionally" created for one specific gender with one set of rules for that sport that are not altered because of gender, both boys and girls should be given the opportunity to play. Not sure this is being factored in by the PIAA but will make my opinion known.

I would just hope that the PIAA considers the fact that some boys currently playing, such as my son, have worked hard at the skills of this sport for years and if the PIAA bans boys playing, my son would lose his senior year playing a sport that he truly loves. I hope that if this decision is made, it would be "grandfathered" so as to allow those who have dedicated themselves to the sport and currently playing, could finish out their high school careers playing a sport they love.

Jonathan Weaver,