Female athletes fight for equality

Even with Title Nine, a law declaring all schools must offer equal athletic opportunity for both genders, women’s sports at Big Spring High School still do not receive equal rights. Many female sports at our school are underappreciated and underfunded when compared to boy’s sports.


According to the NCAA website, “Title IX requires the equal treatment of female and male student-athletes in the provisions of: (a) equipment and supplies; (b) scheduling of games and practice times; (c) travel and daily allowance/per diem; (d) access to tutoring; (e) coaching, (f) locker rooms, practice and competitive facilities; (g) medical and training facilities and services; (h) housing and dining facilities and services; (i) publicity and promotions; (j) support services and (k) recruitment of student-athletes.”


At Big Spring High School, certain girls sports’ rights through Title Nine are being violated. The field hockey team has never played at the home stadium. Leah Gutshall, a senior field hockey player, said, “No we have never played there when I was on the team. I’m not sure if they did before, and I don’t really know why.” But at away games, the team does not play on a practice field like they do at our high school. When talking about playing in stadiums at away games, Gutshall said, “We had our senior night at Dickinson [Instead of] at our home field because we don’t have a lot of seating; we only have one bleacher; that’s about it.” One bleacher. The field hockey team is allotted one bleacher at their home field. Anyone that cannot fit on that, has to bring a lawn chair or something else to sit on, while there is now a second field being built next to the  high school. Although, there is no word yet on whether or not the new field will be used for all sports.  


Along with the field hockey team, the girls’ soccer team has also never played at the stadium, except for on their senior night. The team normally plays in stadiums at away games, and also has limited seating for their fans at their field behind the high school. Most girls’ soccer games occur right after school on that field, with the exception of senior night. While the boy’s soccer teams play in the evenings at the stadium. Maegan Renaut, a senior girl’s soccer player, said “Yes, I have played at the stadium but only for senior nights. I am pretty sure that we don’t usually play there because the athletic office doesn’t believe that we would bring in enough income for what it would cost for us to play every game there.”   Kylee Mengle, another senior Girl’s soccer player, said “We play at the stadiums at other schools more than we play in our own stadium.”


Playing in the stadium is not the only thing that girl’s sports are fighting for. The cheerleading squad has been deprived of a proper practice space for years. Practicing in the cafeteria, with only 4 mats (9 mats is what is needed for an adequate practice space) and people not just coming and going, but deliberately disturbing practices, throwing food, or yelling across the cafeteria has made it harder for the program to reach its full potential. The cheerleaders have also been forced to change in the school bathrooms, because they have been denied access to the team room and the locker rooms at the high school. Alexis Peck, a senior cheerleader, has experienced these discrepancies her entire high school career. Peck said, “I think that cheerleaders should get the same respect and get the use of the equipment and privacy to practice, change, and have the use of our OWN equipment. Honestly the cheerleaders deserve their own room, kind of like the wrestling room at the fitness center. I mean every other team has their own practice rooms and their own equipment. Cheerleaders deserve the same respect and equality as all other teams.”  


The cheerleaders have also received the short end of the stick when it comes to getting to and from football games.  Peck said, “There has been many times that Band, Color Guard, and football get coach buses or even their own buses and we are most of the time stuck with sharing a bus or having to take the vans. The band got coach buses [for a game at Mifflin County High School] and we were stuck having to take the [school] vans. Many people don’t realize that we have more stuff than you think we do. So yes, it is a lot for us to share a bus with colorguard and band because then there is no room for anyone.”


Another controversy in the athletics department is that girl’s sports are not being given the same amount of funding as boy’s sports. Assistant athletic director, Randy Jones, said, “I don’t know that there is a certain policy with a standard number that each sport gets. Coaches request equipment and supplies, and the athletic director makes the final decision on what supplies get approved. [The athletic director] maintains the big number [budget] that the school district gives us.”  When one team requests more equipment, or supplies, there is a potential that their request may overshadow that of a team that needs less supplies, but also brings in less money or has a smaller fanbase. Gutshall said, “Evenly, if a team receives money from outside [sponsors] or fundraises, that’s fine, but school funding should be split evenly. Teams shouldn’t get more money because they have more players, or because of [well known] players.” For example, the football team seems to gain more funding because they draw a larger crowd. There were a lot of new changes made for the football team, including upgrades to the stadium, and having the jersies dry cleaned each week after games. Peck offers another solution to the funding issue: “I think that the school should come together as a board and come up with a fair and close to amount [or] a budget to give to each sports team. Then whatever extra [money] they need is up to them to fundraise. Instead of them fundraising all of the money themselves.”