Editor: With the news media swarming around Cam Newton’s recent remarks regarding a female reporter’s questions and his subsequent gaff, perhaps this could open a new dialogue within our own communities regarding the sexual inequalities present within our own school systems regarding sports.
As few are likely to know (and I recognize we are only talking about middle school sports), the Bryan County Middle School girl’s softball team recently played in the regional championship game. They led the district the entire season before the defeat on Saturday, but they are a team of girls with heart and passion for a sport they love. Recently, the halls of the middle school were decorated with the school colors, a few of us parents fool heartedly believed that these were in support of our girls. However, we later learned this was not for them, but was instead for the football team, who’s season has not been as successful.
Some would argue that softball does not bring in money from attendance and concessions that other programs do. However, if a team is not fully supported, acknowledged, or maybe even bragged about, how can one expect people to attend? The parents of the softball team hosted a tournament at Hendrix Park in August and raised a few thousand dollars in one day for the program. I say their argument is moot, especially since the school administration had no qualms in taking a portion of the money raised.
Through recent conversations with other parents I learned that the new batting cage facility located behind the high school and middle school, the same batting cages my tax dollars helped pay for, were not available to our girls’ softball team. Even at times when they were not in use by another program. The school has invested little monies into the program, with parents providing their time and money to chalk the field prior to the girl’s games. Parents raised the funds to buy the team appropriately fitting uniforms, bat bags, and helmets. Parents provided food prior to home
and away games. We aren’t even asking the school to spend more money, but we are asking that in the future they be afforded the simple request to use the school’s facilities.
What type of message does this send to our young women and their worth within the school? At what point are their contributions to school’s success recognized? How, do I as a parent of a young lady, explain to her that she is not worth a pep-rally by her peers when she is successful? Or why she isn’t allowed to use the batting cages? The same girl who has nothing but school pride and beams when she wears her team jersey. She and the other girls have asked why they don’t receive the same respect as the other teams. Could you imagine how much it would have meant to this team if more of their classmates had been their cheering them on, even if it had been the day before their big game? How much more exciting the community could have made this experience for them? We had home-field advantage! How many teams has Bryan County Schools, even at the high school level, make it so far in the region?
This is only one school, and quite frankly not a new issue, but why do we have to be a society that consistently down plays the female athlete? I’m not asking that we don’t celebrate the sports that are typically dominated by the male students, but rather also celebrate those of our females. Rally each team prior to play-offs, or regional tournaments; don’t let any successful team wonder why they are not appreciated. Let us find a good balance, brag about every team that is doing well, and recognize the benefits that each player can provide. Allow each team to use the school facilities, maybe even find a few dollars to pay for chalk out on the field.
In closing, congratulations to the Bryan County Middle School softball team and their amazing season!