Let The Girls Shoot!

*Image Credit: Popscreen.com

    As many of you know, my older son is very athletic and his favorite sport to play is basketball.  Currently, he is playing on an intramural team since his regular season for the school Bantam team has finished.  Today, as I was sitting in the bleachers watching the game, I noticed that whenever one of the girls on either of the teams had possession of the ball, the coaches would call out to the male players, “Let her shoot!”

    Now, I’m all for being a gentleman and chivalry but, am I the only one who thinks that this is sending the wrong message out to all the kids about gender equality.  By telling the boys to back away and allow the girls to shoot the ball they are saying, in essence, that the girls are not as skilled at basketball as they boys are and that a special set of rules applies to them.

    I wonder if professional female basketball players would be offended if they were playing on the same team or against their male counterparts and this took place.  It sends the message that females are not as good at sports and it perpetuates gender stereotypes about the differences between men and women.  Additionally, it teaches the kids that females are somehow fragile or delicate and incapable of performing under competitive athletic conditions.

    This afternoon, I posed this discussion on the Tough Cookie Mommy Facebook Page and these are some of the responses that this topic received:

Kris Quier Blank said, “If sports are played with both boys and girls, they should be played equally with the same rules across the board…”

Jenny Frances said, “No, I think the coach is teaching the boys to be generous and teaching manners…”

Laura Walter Pryst said, “Maybe, but it might be because the boys aren’t letting her (shoot) while they’re in practice and the coach is trying to make sure the girls on the team get a chance to participate and gain skills…”

Let’s discuss:  Do you think giving girls special privileges and rules in sports sends the wrong message to children about gender equality and male and female roles in society?

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  1. This is the follow up I just posted: Would you feel comfortable bringing it up with the coach? There was an article a while back about teachers encouraging girls/women to speak up in class as a way of trying to ensure equal classroom participation (because statistically girls/women don’t participate as much in classroom discussion). I wonder if the coach (who might also be a teacher?) is expanding that to the court, even if it’s not ACTUALLY necessary? It’s possible that the coach doesn’t even realize that he/she is sending a different message than the one they intend. (~ Laura)

    • You bring up such a good point, Laura. It seems that all of the intramural coaches abide by this unwritten rule. I have no idea if any of them are educators, however, they might be doing this as an extension of their own preconceived ideas about the different genders and how they perform in various sports. I’m comfortable bringing it up but the overall perception from the parents in the bleachers seems to be that this is cute and totally acceptable…

      • Ah yes, the cute factor. It might take a girl’s family bringing it up to make the point more. As the mom of a boy, I can see someone saying “oh you’re just mad that your kid is having to let someone else have a go.” (Which isn’t the case, as any one who knows you can see, but that’s not always how things are understood.)

  2. I haven’t run into this yet, but am trying to think about how I’d feel. Having not been there, it’s hard to say, but I think it would matter to me if the coach was “coaching” for other kids the same way. When a boy has the ball does he say “Let him shoot!”? Maybe she’s the stronger player and he wants them to let her shoot because she’s better. Or maybe it’s that she’s tentative and he wants her to gain confidence. Ultimately it would matter to me if he were treating her differently because she’s a girl or for any number of other reasons that may warrant that type of sideline coaching.

    Assuming it’s just because she’s a girl…well, does she hold her own? IS she an equal player? If she is, I wouldn’t think he’d need to shout this, I”d think the boys would figure it out on their own. I was at a conference recently and the keynote speaker discussed the differences in generations. Apparently when asked how many boys and how many girls are in their college classes, this generation doesn’t know. They don’t differentiate by gender, so don’t think to notice. It was interesting to me.

    So, while I think older coaches may have inherent gender biases, I don’t think the kids do. As long as the objectives of the team were being met – kids learning how to play, learning good sportsmanship, having time on the court, enjoying themselves – then I think I’d be ok with it.

  3. Well, first, let me say that it is great to see girls playing basketball. I always feel really dejected when I go to the park with my young daughter and all we see are BOYS playing basketball. What does that tell her about what is possible for her? In terms of your question, I was wondering the same thing as Laura. I was wondering if the boys were not letting the girls shoot. But if it’s special treatment, I agree with you. It’s not doing anyone any good.

  4. GrandmaBonnie A says

    Honestly this may have started in practice where the boys were probably hogging all the opportunities to keep the ball to themselves. I can see the coach insisting the girls be given a chance to practice or they would not have the opportunity to improve their skills. Probably much like little league baseball where everyone gets a turn whether good or bad. The coach should not have brought the concept over into a live game though if this was the reasoning.

  5. I’m not really sure. As someone else stated it might be because the guys don’t give the girls a chance–and even though girls do tend to be taller then boys when younger they might be pushed around just like one of the other guys. There is a fine line here-

  6. I take krav maga classes and there are several men in the class who go “easy” on the girls, but I always tell them to let me have it. It’s closer to real life that way and besides, I don’t want anyone to think I am weaker just because I am a girl. I can do anything the guys can.

  7. Lean Lacaba says

    In high school, we had our sports week. When it came to the girls playing basketball, there were absolutely no rules, except for the basic: no going out of the court and no dribbling. It was really unfair to the guys, and kind of insulting to us girls. I think we should make things equal.

  8. Dawn Spatulas On Parade says

    I see this from a very different prospective. How we were created and what our roles are. Where our place is.
    I’ll keep all that to myself and just say, if you play with the big dogs expect to get bit.

  9. scentednights2002 says

    I think if there is one team, all players need to follow the same rules.

  10. Daisy Tremorev says

    You know, I honestly don’t know because I feel like I don’t have kids that age and maybe lack the insight. My gut is that it is wrong and that everyone should be treated equally.

  11. JadeLouise Designs says

    Some really good points were brought up….girls do need to be allowed the ability to practice and improve their skill. And if in practice they are continually blocked at this opportunity, then they can’t get any better.

    BUT at the same time, this is not something that should be done in an actual game. I think if the girls are on the same team, then they need to have the skill level to keep them on the team, including being able to dodge blockers, play as a team member and hold her own.

    I used to play inter-mural basketball in High school. It was all just for fun without any designated refs or sanctioned games. And I hated it when the boys took it “easy” on me. I didn’t want to be the weak one, I wanted to show I could hold my own.

  12. I feel that we need to treat our boys and girls the same if they are in the same situation. I have always told my daughter that if she chooses to compete against men she can’t expect to be treated any different.

  13. I’d almost have to observe this for myself before I could offer an opinion.

  14. I agree with you. If my daughter were on a male/female team I wouldn’t want nor would I expect her to be given any special privilages or treated different.

  15. I am really unsure how I feel about this. I guess if they don’t get any practice they can’t get better, but I feel like everyone should be treated equally too.

  16. I would have to agree that if they put girls on the same team, they should be treated equally instead of given special treatment.

  17. Debi@The Spring Mount 6 Pack says

    I wouldn’t want my daughter to get special treatment. I would want her to be out there doing her best.

  18. Slap Dash Mom says

    There’s no room for manners in sports! Okay, I don’t mean that I guess.. I don’t think they should be assholes to teach other, but I was a bad ass basketball player and I would’ve been pissed if a coach would’ve told one of the other players to go easy on me because I have a vagina!

  19. kristenione says

    I think if they are all on the same team they should be treated equally. Boys can learn how to treat girls like ladies in other ways, not on the court! It’s a game and it’s meant to be competitive.

  20. Liz @ A Nut in a Nutshell says

    For each of the players, it could mean something different depending on their personality. I’m honestly not sure what to think about the message it sends.

  21. No, I wouldn’t expect any special attention. Those are the risks she is taking for going into an all male team.

  22. I really don’t think that they should get special treatment/privileges but also we don’t want our daughters hurt either. There’s nothing wrong with equal treatment but to what extreme?

  23. I think it depends on the age as to if I would be comfortable with co-ed sports myself, especially physical sports. Lots to think about and so many valid points have been brought up.

  24. I don’t think there should be special treatment between girls and boys when participating on the same team.

    I do believe up to a certain age that everyone should get the opportunity to participate and develop their skills and that their playing time should not be based on their ability.

  25. Amanda McMahon says

    i think it depends on the age of the child more than the gender

  26. I do not think there should be special treatment when it comes down to sports between girls and boys. If they are going to put boys and girls together it needs to be equal.

  27. Courtney Pies says

    As a former female athlete, I definitely think it wasn’t right of the coaches to be saying that. Girls can be just as talented, if not more, than men and shouldn’t have any special treatment. If they’re going to play with boys, they need to be treated equally.

  28. Katherine Bartlett says

    Girls are just as talented as boys and it’s wrong that the coach said that.

  29. Melanie Roberts says

    Of course..girls can be just as talented as boys…WOW.. what a post.. thanks for sharing

  30. Chef John & Anne says

    So without knowing for sure more of the specifics of the dynamics between the coach and the team (that could influence his decision to do this) … here are my thoughts!

    Generally speaking, it seems our culture has moved much more towards an “entitlement” approach in many areas. I’m wondering if this could be an area where we are seeing that happening too … where “every child” is “entitled” to having a chance to perform or play in the game. It seems like kids are no longer expected to compete a lot of times … my pastor addressed this recently in a sermon where he brought up the fact that in many children’s athletic programs, all kids get a trophy just because their parents paid the fee for them to play.

    If this is what is happening or a reason for why the coach said what he did, I (Anne) disagree. We are doing our children NO favors by taking competition out of their lives. And actually, I think we are harming them. They must learn to compete to live successfully as an adult and all children need to learn “how” to win and how to lose.

    My husband and I have also had discussions about the “expert” opinions that competition may affect children’s self-esteem. But the best way to address that possibility is to help a child learn how to cope with disappointment rather than taking competition completely out of the lives.

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