Should Girls Play on Boys’ Teams?

I recently had the opportunity to interview Alex Morgan, the 22-year-old U.S Women’s National Team forward who made a huge splash at this past summer’s Women’s World Cup, for Soccer America. After the article ran, a reader posted a comment that proved the seed for this blog post. The reader asked, “What about girls playing on boys teams to elevate their play?

My first reaction was that I knew that many professional women soccer and basketball players did play with male counterparts growing up—especially if they had an older brother—but usually in playground or neighborhood play, not on organized teams.

And when I was still on the Little League board, there would always be a handful of girls playing baseball with the boys from T-ball through age 10. Then it dropped off to a lone girl in Majors (ages 11-12) and a lone girl in Juniors (ages 13-14). The girls wanted to be there (no one was forcing them to play baseball instead of softball), but they really didn’t have much success hitting against boys who were now taller and much stronger. Their bodies betrayed their desire.

I decided to ask some parents, youth coaches and sports psychologists about co-ed teams: when they are and are not appropriate, and why. And whether playing with boys really makes girls better athletes.

One mother I spoke with firmly believes her daughter is a better athlete because she played on boys’ teams when she could, but more importantly, she felt that both genders learned valuable skills from the co-ed experience. She observes that, “boys tend to be more single-minded and aggressive; they are focused on moving the ball and scoring,” which typically means that they prefer to take the ball down the field or the court by themselves if they see the chance to score, rather than passing to a teammate. She continues, “The challenge with that is that boys are less inclined to naturally develop the teamwork skills they need when the level of competition increases.”

On the other hand, she says, “Girls tend to be more about collaboration and teamwork. They are more concerned about that than winning.  The upside is that girls embrace skills such as passing and knowing the strengths of each other as a team more quickly than boys. The downside is that they don’t tend to be as aggressive and they don’t fight for the points or learn the solo skills that boys are more naturally inclined toward. Thus, girls have to work harder on developing their aggressive side to balance out the teamwork disposition.”

Another benefit for girls, according to a parent whose daughter opts to play on boys’ teams whenever possible, is that her daughter is “able to play her best position (midfield or fullback), whereas on a girls’ team she [is] always forced to play forward.” An interesting perspective, for sure.

Given this win-win situation, why don’t we have co-ed teams at all levels—and for all sports? The general consensus is that co-ed teams work well when kids are young (say, under 11) and then again in high school. When they’re young, boys and girls’ “height and weight are, for the most part, balanced” and when they are in high school, co-ed teams are great for recreational/social reasons rather than competitive reasons.

In between—in those wonderful, unpredictable ‘puberty’ years—girls and boys just don’t match up that well physically, emotionally, or athletically. Sure, there’s always going to be an exception, but, in general, “boys and girls are maturing in different ways and this is when boys really become physically stronger and more aggressive than their female counterparts,” said one long-time youth basketball coach. Plus, for school-affiliated teams, “you have the logistical challenges of needing separate dressing areas for the female athletes, which can make them feel like they are not totally part of the team.”

There’s also consensus around which sports are more inclined to work for co-ed possibilities and which don’t. What’s the determining factor? The level of physical contact. Most feel that co-ed teams are appropriate for baseball, volleyball, track & field and soccer, but not for football, lacrosse or hockey. Respondents with whom I spoke are split on the sport of basketball, because of the amount of physical interaction under the hoop, where “body contact is not only allowed but celebrated,” according to one father. A long-time youth basketball coach said that he believes we “are opening up female athletes to a higher probability of injury if they are participating on a boys team after age 11,” when talking about football, hockey and basketball.

So what’s a good alternative to a co-ed team but still helps girls improve their skills and embrace rather than shirk from physical play, irrespective of the sport? Having your all-girls team scrimmage against an all-boys team. It raises the girls’ sense of competitiveness and athleticism—without the ongoing potential for injury. Make sure the teams are matched in terms of skill level and size, though.

One last benefit that was mentioned by many women who had played on all-male teams at some point in their athletic career: they felt that they are stronger and more capable in their professional lives. Says one woman who not only played on the boys’ golf team before girls’ teams existed, but also served as the team captain, “I attribute [the fact that I played on the high school boys’ golf team] to the success I have had to-date in my career—I own my own company—and my relationships. I feel that I have a unique ability to see both sides of gender issues and not be biased toward either side. The experience boosted my confidence level and I am stronger for it.” Another professional female athlete told me that, “these [co-ed athletic] experiences will benefit girls in their workplace relationships with male counterparts” for many years to come.

Sports therapist, Carla Lundblade, summed it up well: “Girls who are good enough to earn a spot on a boys’ team will reap major rewards throughout their lives thanks to the confidence they’ve built by achieving that goal.”

As a woman and the mother of a female athlete, I think it’s phenomenal that girls are no longer seen as fragile or less-than-equal competitors. So now, isn’t giving them a leg up in the professional workplace through sports a worthy goal?

What do you think, does it make sense to have girls play on boys’ teams?

Responses...

Anonymous  

I have participated in, and coached/taught, two different sports where adult women and men participate both separately and together: Rowing and Sailing. Neither sport is what I would term a contact sport, but rowing is certainly one where size and strength are very important. I spent several years teaching both dinghy and basic keelboat sailing, and if anything, I would say that the biggest difference is in the type of coaching the students are willing to put up with. Men may be much more tolerant of aggressive, yelling type of coaching. Women learn better with more encouragement, and certainly no yelling. The “Womanship” sailing program is set up on this premise, I believe, where women teach only women in a sailing program. While the style of coaching tolerated may be different, I have found that the rate at which students pick up the skills never seemed to favor one gender over the other, and sailing with mixed crews can work well (as long as the skipper is not a yeller and everyone is treated with respect). In rowing, much the same. In masters (ie adult) rowing, we typically have same-sex races, and we also have “mixed” races where crews are evenly divided half and half. Overall, the success of the crew is heavily dependent on not only the strength and endurance of the crew, but also on the skill level of each rower on the crew. This, of course, is heavily dependent on the skills and abilities of the coach to teach the crew. Thus, in these two sports, I feel there is both a place for same-sex competition, but also for mixed competition. Making it fun for everyone, however, is heavily dependent on the coaching.

Anonymous  

No. USA hockey took out checking for peewees this year so some girls switched to the boys program. That left girls teams with not enough players and some boys were not able to make a team.

Anonymous  

My daughter plays on an all boys soccer team which she made based on merit. She had an extremely successful season with the TEAM going 18-0-1. In other words, having a female on the team of equal caliber did not impact the team chemistry whatsoever.

Now playing U13, we have had to overcome some hurdles regarding local rules on mixed gender play however it has been determined that it is up to the coach whether she continues. For the foreseeable future my daughter will play on a boys team.

Why did we make this decision. Initially it was the coach. After training with the team however, it became very obvious that the difference in skill level, intensity and aggression of the boys would fast track our daughter’s development as a center back. Note: when she plays with girls, the coach always has her at forward similar to the experience described in the blog above.

Physically, my daughter is well equipped to handle the strength and the speed of the boys. By U15 we will likely have to reassess.

Anonymous  

No and Yes, Not for Hockey, why is it that girls can play on two teams during the Manitoba hockey season, when boys are not allowed to play for two teams, the girls are allowed to play on a mixed team as well as an only girls team.

Emily Cohen  

That’s a great question! I don’t know the answer. Does anyone out there know? Thanks!

Harry Shade  

Excellent post Emily!

I have been a youth sports coach for 33 years now and have coached coed, boys and girls teams. I currently coach girls basketball at the high school level. In my humble opinion there is a time and place when it is OK to have girls and boys on the same team and then there is a time and a place when it is not.

First let’s start when it is appropriate. I believe when kids are younger, say between the ages of 5 and 11, that having co-ed teams works the best because physically boys and girls can match up well. I also believe that it is also appropriate for sports like baseball, basketball, volleyball, soccer but not for football or hockey.

I feel it is inappropriate after age 11 because physically boys and girls are maturing in many different ways and this is when boys really become physically stronger and more aggressive than their female counterparts.

There is also a lot of socializing going on during this time as well and then you also have the logistical challenges of needing separate dressing areas for the female athletes, which can make them feel like they are not totally part of the team.

Don’t get me wrong, there is always the exception to the rule and from time
to time, I have invited boys teams in to practice with my girls teams but I
truly believe you are opening up female athletes to a higher probability of
injury, if they are participating on a boys team after age 11.

Harry Shade
Assistant JV/Varsity Basketball Coach
Jonathan Alder High School Lady Pioneers

Anonymous  

i am a girl that plays soccer i play on an all girls team but i used to play on mixed team but if i was offered to play on a boys team i would accept it, beacuase i think it would be a confidence booster and would be a great expierience to learn from and gain strength from!!

Kathryn  

I’m a girl who plays sports all the time. I miss playing on the guys teams. Its more intense and i have the skill to play with them but coaches dont want girls on their teams. I’m writing a persuassive essay about this topic andI think girls should be aloud.

Oscar soto  

No they should not

Bob Bobertson  

If they are willing to play hard, than why not?

Emma  

Yes. If girls want to play on boy’s sports teams let them. You can’t go “your a girl you can’t play with the boys”. As a girl myself I think it fine I love to play on the boy’s team.

Anonymous  

i dont they should play together because the boys of the opponents team will take the for granted and always go for them

raia  

why should girls play on a boys sports teams what are the reason i have to write a report can u help

Deep Think  

Girls should be aloud to play on a boys team but the team should not be considered a boys team If its a boy team and girls play on it then it bcome a coed team.As for boys playing on a girl team that also should be aloud. Thus where we are headed is towards coed teams then we will have the equality and parity between the genders we say we want.

Katie  

Girls are just as dexterous as boys. They can win for you’re favorite team! When they need an astonishing player, that can win by there to hit, throw, ext. call the girls over, some girls can play some sports really well. They can help you’re team to victory with there mind boggling talents! Its also very fair when playing. No boy is better than a girl. No girl is better than a boy. Girls don’t have an advantage, same as boys! Both genders have an equal chance of winning, its win or win; i don’t see why they think girls ( or boys on girls teams) will make that team win, win, win they both can do the same things. A last reason is If you think boys can ballet just as well as girls! Then why can’t girls be on boys sports teams! They need amazing dancers, teams need the same things. You’ll letting boys do what girls can do, so why can’t girls do what they can do? Girls should be able to be on boys sports teams because they are just as good.

Anonymous  

They should

Anonymous  

Thanks for the article, needed it for my persuasive essay in English.

Anonymous  

i think that girls should

arleth zevada  

they should play

Big Daddy  

I would have to agree that for a young woman 12 and under; participating with the boys in football, basketball, baseball or track and field really has no merit. In fact; I have seen a young woman at 11 playing baseball with boys at an All Star Little League level and have watched her: 1) Throw the helmet in rage many times after striking out 2) Run from her father who was a coach on the team in full tears 3) Not communicate or speak to anyone before, after or during the games and 4) Show the umpires complete disrespect during these displays and put the spotlight clearly on her.
Whereas; I can see an exceptional female athlete that is at the High School level want to compete against the men to improve her game; I do not condone any young woman 12 and under competing against boys. It is a developmental time; and in this example, this is time where she should learn the finer points of softball and develop her relationships on the softball field with the players she will have to identify with and compete with as she gets older. She is also taking a position away from a young man that will eventually grow into himself and will be competing in the sport for many years to come.
In the middle of this is usually a father that never competed in that sport and chose a different sport. They live inside of their daughters and many times coach the team so she can have preferential treatment. Not realizing what an absolute ass that they look like; they usually carry on during games and try to be “one of the boys” to cover their immaturity and inability to accept that girls are bigger than boys till they are 13. They want to make themselves look bigger; and the Father’s I have seen do this always fade into the sunset with the moniker of “jack ass” and “that’s this idiot” when they show up to future sporting events.
Seen it in every generation – there is always one in the crowd and they end up wearing clown shoes for the rest of their daughters career.
Don’t wear clown shoes – keep your daughter with the girls unless the HS coach asks her to join the team. That is the best advice I can give to any one that would consider this at a youth age.

Big Daddy

Anonymous  

We should make a distinction between girls playing on boys teams versus on a coed team. The former is the case where the team is in a boys league and does not require any girls to be on the team, whereas a coed team normally requires a mixture of boys and girls. Theoretically, a girl playing on a boys team only maintains her position on the team by merit rather than being part of a quota. My daughter has been playing on a boys travel team in NYC since the U8 age group, and is now on the U15 team, she is 14 years old. They play in the competitive leagues against teams that are exclusively male at this point –although there have been a couple of other teams in the league with a girl on them at various times in the past. The games are very physical, fast and skillful. She has definitely been through ups and downs and has to deal with lots of issues of being the only girl, but last year the boys elected her to be team captain, which was really cool. She continues to be a solid player, who has a sneaky tackle, and an ability to organize defense (she talks to the other defenders to get them in position — which is why the boys wanted her as captain). She has survived on the team when other (boy) players did not. I’m sure the coaches would have told her when it was time to move on to the girls league, but they have not. Generally she starts most games and plays 50% – 100% of the game. I think it’s wrong to generalize either about girl players or about their fathers (:-) , since it tends to imply that everyone is the same in some way. I don’t think that boys teams should be converted into coed teams, but I also think that if a girl has earned her position on the team based on ability, and could be cut at any time for lack of performance, then she has every right to be on the team as any boy would be. It’s really easy to assume that no girl could play on a real boys team, but some can, and they should be given that opportunity, so long as they compete at the level that is expected.

Anonymous  

My son was 10 years old when he tried out wresteling one year. He went to a match and to his surprise met up with a girl. He beat her but what he expressed after was terrible. He was sorry that he hurt her. She began crying halfway through the match and he had to continue to wrestle her until the match was over. I was very upset that this happened. I had taught him never to hurt a girl. I knew boys wrestled around and could hurt each other but that he was not to hurt a girl ever! Yet here he was faced with a delemma should he try to win or should he back off. Luckly we knew before the match that he was going to matched up with a girl and told him that he was to do everything he had been taught in his skills training class. She had entered the competition to compete like a boy so wrestle her as if she was a boy. In the end nobody won. She cried presumably because she was getting beat because she did not let anyone know that she was hurt and my son felt really bad that he had made a girl cry by physically domonating her. Really people is this what we want to teach or boys?

Kat  

@Big Daddy your argument that a girl is taking a position from a young man who will later improve and grow into himself has been used to keep women out of higher education, business and other pursuits for ages. It’s sexist and old fashioned and certainly not meritocratic or American. If a person, male or female, can hold and do well in a position, they deserve a chance at that position. Please, please, please don’t let your daughters learn how you feel.

Kat  

@Harry Shade Why can’t girls play hockey with boys until ( at least) the physical changes post puberty enter into the game? I don’t follow the logic.

Anonymous  

If the calibre of girls sports wants to improve, then girls should not play on boys teams. Parents need to believe that girls only sports are as good as boys only sports. This will foster more competition, more development and will bring the level of play to be equal to that of the boys teams.

Anonymous  

Under the age of 12 boys and girls are generally the same size and to compete against each other is’nt much of a concern. When boys and bigger and stronger they tend to split them up anyway. Can some girls still compete with the boys as they get older. Yes and even in the physical sports to some extent, but it isn’t can they play is it should they play. There are boys teams, girls teams and some coed teams and each of them have there merits. Let the boys have there own team. Its a chance for boys to boys and have here time together just as the dgirls will have theres on there teams

Deb Step  

As a parent of a girl and a boy I see both sides of the coin. However, as the parent of a High School boy soccer player I think girls on boys teams create an unfair advantage. I have watched several boys tone down their aggressiveness during the game when matched up against a girl. I have also observed the refs making calls that would not be made if there were all boys playing. I am not the only parent that has noticed this. I have also heard the parents of the girls recognizing this as well.

Anonymous  

Under the age of 12 boys and girls are generally the same size and to compete against each other is’nt much of a concern. When boys and bigger and stronger they tend to split them up anyway. Can some girls still compete with the boys as they get older. Yes and even in the physical sports to some extent, but it isn’t can they play is it should they play. There are boys teams, girls teams and some coed teams and each of them have there merits. Let the boys have there own team. Its a chance for boys to be boys and have here time together and be with the guys and its the same for the girls to have there time as well. Girls can play on boys teams. Do boys have that opportunity? I think not. Its a chance to be with there buddies and girls do not always have to be there. When guys get toether for football games it’s there time. You think they want the wives there! Certain female events wouldn’t want the guys either! Boys should have there teams and girls should have theres. If there is enough interest in coed teams then all he power to them..great! Cw….

Anonymous  

What’s the point in having girls play on ‘boys’ teams? Should boys play on girls teams?

Not Big Daddy  

God, some people seem so obtuse. If a boy isn’t making a team because a girl or boy is better than him, he shouldn’t make the team. If a girl has the skill level to compete on whatever team, she should be allowed. For whatever sex of child you have, you should want them playing at a level that is challenging for them. What difference does the sex make.

OK a little chauvinistic, but typically the all girls teams aren’t as competitive for some sports. If you want to make a case that your son should be playing on a girls team because that’s where he can best be matched for competition, have fun making that argument if there is an equivalent boys or mixed league. But if it is the best fit, honestly, go ahead.

Some sports there’s a lot of numbers for males and females. Others (hockey being one) the number of boys playing far outnumbers the girls. By sheer probability the girls team will likely be weaker just because you have a smaller pool of girls. Why not let the girls’ skills develop with other players who have a similar skill level? Shouldn’t that raise all boats?

Having coached girls and boys in hockey, I’ve observed a few things. Girls in these sports that the numbers are skewed heavily towards boys are smarter, more coachable and generally really want to be there. They pay attention. The boys it is a mixed bag. Some want to, some are there because of friends and some I can’t figure why they are there (dad pressure maybe?). At the young ages, the girls pick up things a lot quicker. As a coach they are a pleasure to have on the team. As a dad, it stinks if there is only one girl. If there are a couple who are friends, the social aspect is much better. Not all the boys hang out together, but throw 15 in a room and there’s a good chance most of them will find someone to bond with. That is a little harder with only one girl.

The girls teams are great for the social aspect of team sports, especially if there are few girls playing the sport. But, that generally comes with increased travel and time commitments on the family.

Bottom line is that if I think a child has potential to do well in a sport or really enjoys a sport, all of us should be making an effort to put our kids with the best teams, organizations and coaches that will take them and allow our kids to enjoy the sport and grow as people. Note that “best” here doesn’t mean wins all the championships, but ones that challenge them, have philosophies that you are ok with and coaches that are respectable, work well with kids and create an environment that makes your kid want to come back and play the next year.

As the kids get older, yes it becomes harder. Should that 250lb kid who can barely skate be playing on the B team and even have the chance to take the head off of a girl who may not have the speed or size to make the A team? Probably not. But that’s again where you need to reevaluate it for your kid. He maybe also should have the opportunity to take the head off of the 5-1 boy who is 110lbs either.

For adult leagues? If the person has the skill to play at that level, by all means let them. Nothing funnier than hearing some guys start bitching that a couple of girls are going to be playing in a pickup hockey game, not knowing that the girls played on very good D1 and D3 teams in college, and then having the girls skate circles around them. They were awfully quiet afterwards.

Anonymous  

In 1978-1980 I played on an all boys soccer team in 7th and 8th grade because my school did not offer women’s soccer. My mother had to fight the board of education to allow me to play. I was captain of the team my second year. I was also one of the best players on the team. I did not notice any physical differences and I was just as fast as the boys. I did train with the boys team in the summer before my freshman year in highschool right before I moved away. I will say that I noticed a physical difference at the age of 14 and I was no longer one of the fastest but more middle of the pack and recognized that if I were to stay the challenge would be that much greater. I moved to a school that offered a girls program. Because the Varsity coach had already formed his team I was forced to play on the Freshman girls team which was an utter disaster. I was so much better and more aggressive than the other girls that at one point the entire team refusted to play with me. The coaches eventually moved me to the Varsity team. During my highschool years I would often try to train with the boys in the summer or jump into any pick up game. I went on to play Division one soccer in college. I believe that my opportunity to play on the boys team changed my athletic path. I also believe it shaped me as a person and gave me the confidence to excel in my professional life and not shy from working in male dominated industries. Nevertheless, I do not believe just any girl should play on any boys team. It requires ability and merit. At some point, physical differences will play a factor. The best person to make that decision is the (hopefully honest and open minded) coach. I have coached girls soccer teams u6- U10 for six years. I see some girls that would benefit tremendously from playing on boys teams or in co-ed situations. However, I see just as many girls that should not be put in that situation. It is very athlete specific.

Ken McDonald  

Thank you for sharing your experiences! Great feedback for everyone.

Anonymous  

If ability is the determining factor, girls who are good enough should be allowed to play on boys teams as long as boys who are not good enough can play on girls teams. This whole argument presupposes differences between boys and girls – correctly – but proposes a solution that is sexist.

Anonymous  

Unless boys can play in a girls league, it seems unfair that girls can play in a boys league. To be fair, girls should only be able to play in a boys league if no such league for that sport exists for girls.

Anonymous  

well i think that they need to have more sports for girls just as they do for boys. an it wouldn’t be the way it is .

Anonymous  

Well I can say that my daughter currently plays on both teams. An A2 all girls team (age 10) and a mostly boys Recreation or House League. She is a very good player and scores two to three goals during every girls game. However, she has to fight for every goal on the boys team and averages one goal per game. She is learning from them as they are from her. She is becoming more assertive when going after the puck but also passes a lot more to them when she thinks they have a better opportunity to score. It has been really fun to watch it progress. We know that at some point, the physical differences will be so great, she will have to play only with the girls but I hightly recommend the experince for any girl who loves the game and wants to add to her skill level.

Hockey Gal's Mom  

First of all, I think we have to consider the history of the sport as well as the history of women in a “man’s world”. It is a fact that women were not allowed to vote, enter bars, hold professional positions, etc. until well after men. The same is for the sport of ice hockey. All-Female ice hockey is relatively new to the sports world. In the rural areas, it may take 5 or more communities to make up an all-girls’ team because female hockey is less popular. Meanwhile, in these same communities, it can even be challenging to make up a boys’ team and so girls are often needed – this is the main reason for allowing girls to double roster. My daughter has played on both for 3 years because she wanted to – she very much enjoys the all-girls’ hockey and it is her preference BUT she also really enjoys being on the ‘boys’ team because it is a faster and more challenging level of hockey. I know this has made her a better hockey player and overall athlete. Had peewee level not removed hitting, she likely would not be playing, for the obvious reason of strength differences and the higher possibility of injury. As it turns out, she is a stronger player than most of her male counterparts on the team, so this has not been an issue. I believe thie co-ed approach is a positive for everyone. Girls gain confidence and skill, boys and girls both learn from each other and perhaps most important is that males see females as their equals at this stage in their life and that, I believe is a step forward. I say this all pertaining to our specific situation in a rural community that fights to keep minor hockey alive. As for those who are saying that “if the girls can do it, then the boys should be able to, too”, this can be a limiting factor. Certainly if there are many to choose from an area for both boys and girls, then a co-ed team would not be necessary as the level of girls’ play would naturally be higher, with having more girls to pick from. There are the issues with the change rooms and some father coaches not wanting girls on the team and my daughter has been discriminated against on occasion, but these are issues that come up in the real world too – and it is a good learning experience for eveyone. And by golly, those boys respect the girls!!! As for those parents in rural communities wishing to deny females from playing with the boys, that is a step back in history. There is a reason that women are becoming more equal! I have also been working in male dominated positions all my life and it has not always been easy – but that is why females must continue to strive – so that we can be all seen as humans, not one gender vs the other! As for the chauvinistic remarks, I feel sorry for you. That kind of attitude is not going to bode in your favor -not for you and not for your children. We all need to respect one another regardless of gender, race, identity, etc. I hope this comment has been insightful for at least some of you out there.

Anonymous  

I coach hockey and if you have the talent to make the team , Good for you ! Just don’t complain when your head is down and you get flattened !

Anonymous  

My answer is that it depends on the sport, age of participants and the girl. I have two sons aged 12 and 14 who have had girls on their soccer, baseball and hockey teams even though each of these sports had girl’s leagues. We found that in the early years it worked well. As the kids got older, the number of girls participating in the boy’s leagues has dropped drastically. It’s still nice to see the occasional girl in baseball and soccer and those girls who participate can certainly hold their own against the boys. Hockey, however is another story. My 14 year old plays hockey and there is one girl who plays in their 10 team division. She’s strong and an excellent player, often better than many of the other boys on the ice. However, some of these boys are over 6 feet, aggressive and very powerful. It’s a non-contact league, but when a 6 foot plus 14 year old boy is racing down the ice full speed, sometimes collisions happen. The boys are at the age when hormones are raging and they get aggressive with each other on the ice. If the girl can physically handle these types of impacts, more power to her, but she can be at a disadvantage. I also find the boys often hold back when they are around her because they are afraid of hurting her and this isn’t fair to the boys. Team bonding is very important for success and player satisfaction, with girls in a separate dressing room, she may have trouble feeling part of the team. There isn’t a one size fits all solution. I don’t have a problem with girls participating in boys leagues, I think that this may not work for all sports at any age.

Anonymous  

No. Let boys be boys without females present in one aspect of their lives.

Anonymous  

Just got back from a tourney, where our mixed team ( 3 girls, 13 boys) faced an all girls team. The girls team was rock and roll, and we knew that from the stats. I said to our manager as we were going out, “Well, I hope they aren’t a team of all XXXXX’s (one of our girls) or we are going to be in trouble.” My son over heard me and said “or XXXX’s or XXXXX’s”. The other 2 girls. Well guess what? They were X’s all over the ice.

Before the game I heard a couple of our larger, older, stronger boys say that it would be “so embarassing” if we lost to a girls team. But we did. We played extreemly lazy the first half. My response in the dressing room later was “never disrespect your opposition. They are here for a reason.”

I m not the head coach. He had much to say about lazy play in the first half but that was my add. Yes hockey has 3 periods, but this tourney was just 2.

Anyway, we have girls on our team, they rock, and they should be allowed to do so as long as they can. Full gooning contact is for those without skills anyway, and boy’s hockey could do without it. It’s for beer fans. Sydney Crosby or Steve Smith should not be out due to goons.

That girls team was really well coached and probably needed to play boys teams to find adequate competion.

Anonymous  

If there is a coed league then fine. Why is it so difficult for boys to be in their own programs. My boys joined cubs, there were girls enrolled. They play hockey and there are girls on the team and in the dressing room. Here is the issue, the girls have their own opportunities to join their own gender specific clubs and sports, yet frankly the boys do not get that choice. While the girls may make the boys team on their own merit, it takes an opportunity away from a boy and that is his only choice. I don’t get why parents of girls feel they have to compete with the boys to be better, it is disrespecting to all the high level female teams and players. Let’s reverse it, put a boy on an all girls team, with him in the dressing room, it would be an outrage yet it okay the other way? think about it.

Anonymous  

NO I think boy are trying to find out who they are at this time in there life. They do not need any more distraction. If a girl want to play football then they need to start there on football team with girls.. No girl should want to be hit in the manner.. This is what is wrong with the world today.. PLEASE teach your girls how to be great women and men teach your boy how to become great men both genders need to know the difference

John  

I think it’s great that if a girl’s skill warrants her being on a boys team, that she be allowed. That said, I haven’t heard anyone comment on the opposite. If it’s ok for a girl to be on a boys team, is it also ok for a boy to play on a “girls only” team? This needs to be a two-way street folks. If you are in favor of a girl being allowed to be on a boys team, then you also need to be in favor of a boy playing on a girl’s team.

An example….A boy wants to play rep hockey, isn’t quite good enough to make the rep teams, but would be good enough to play on a girl’s rep team.

Will he be allowed?

Most areas today say no.

So then if this is the girl’s rule….why should the boy’s allow girl’s to play?

I welcome comments.

ellen  

wow – some very interesting opinions out there.
I have no issue with girls on boys teams in principal; if they can make the team then good for them! People commenting that boys should then be allowed to play on girls teams are being silly. In any sport, there are so many more boys teams than girls teams there is absolutely no need for boys to play on girls teams, as there will always be some team for them at whatever level they require.
I have a daughter who plays on her high school hockey team, because there is not a girls hockey team at her school. No problem.
When one of my daughters was young she played on a boys hockey team in our area for several reasons – cost (the boys team cost about half of the girls team), location (the boys teams games were all local; the girls travelled all over) and demographics (the boys team was single year; the girls two year age bracket, and my daughter was just not socially at the same level as the girls – she got on great with the boys!)
That said she didn’t love it. The hockey was good; better than what she would’ve played with the girls, but the coach was a yeller, some of the boys clearly didn’t like having a girl on their team and she felt that and she was targeted a bit by boys on other teams and she didn’t like that at all – not because she got hurt, but because she felt it was unfair.
My biggest issue however with girls playing on boys teams is the general feeling that if your daughter does this she gains a huge competitive advantage over other girls going forward. That playing with the boys is some kind of status thing and says something about your daughter and her abilities. If there really is no team at a competitive level that is high enough for your daughter to further develop then have her play with the boys by all means. For example if she is playing on a boys AAA hockey team in Ontario Canada she will be playing at a level higher than any girls teams at the same age level. If it works better for your family economically or logistically and/or if it is just the right choice for your child at that time, then fine. But stop having girls play with the boys or play several age groups ahead as a way of boasting about how great your kid is. Sad as it sounds I think that is far too common a reason for having girls play on boys teams.

Anonymous  

I agree with the coach above. After age 11 it should not be mixed. I think in MOST cases, when a female is playing on a boys team, it is the girl that reaps the benefit, not the boys or the team as a whole.

Anonymous  

My son plays rep A nine year old in Mississauga onto. There are a few girls in his loop. While they are good enough to play at that level, Mississauga has a very large competitive girls hockey program. The girls can play girls AA if they could make that level. Having coached girls rep hockey , it is very good hockey and quite frankly the girls in my sons loop would be hard pressed to play at the top girls level. Why are they taking the spot of a boy when there is a strong exclusively girls level to play at? One answer. Parents. They either dont respect girls hockey or think their daughter is going to be the next Hailey wickenheiser.

Anonymous  

NO, girls play with girls and boys play with boys!!!

Jack Garrow  

My daughter has always played boys and girls hockey (defense, no less) and she is in 10th grade and on the High School JV Boys Hockey Team, the Midget U16 Boys Team and the Pens Elite U16 Girls Travel Team (and she much prefers the boys). As demonstrated by all the comments, it is a very complex issue, but I would be glad to weigh in. However, it would take more than a single (even long) comment here. An email or call (412-519-8778) would do the topic more justice. Thanks.

Debbie  

i’m 14 and I’ve played boys box lacrosse competitively for the last 3 years at an A2, A1 level this has benefited me hugely, last season i was named the assistant captain, this past year i also made the provincial team and was named captain we traveled back east and brought home a silver medal, all thanks to my experience playing boys lacrosse, boys lacrosse has also helped me stay fit from the intense training you don’t usually get with girls sports and also helped me with field lacrosse to make the provincial team twice in a row, it also helped me in soccer. Boys sports are more organized and beneficial than girls sports, I’ve learned so much, met great people, improved my skill as an athlete, I’ve also learned how to be a leader and I’ve learned how to standout as a player, and not just for being the girl on the other team. So if you or your daughter wants to play on a boys team do it, playing on a boys team was the best decision i ever made. Don’t ever let anyone tell you you can’t do something because you’re a girl, you are only as weak as you act, and girls can do anything guys can do. (PS. if a reason your not playing on a boys is because you don’t want to get hurt, I’ve never gotten hurt playing on a boys, or provincial team. Or if the reason is that you don’t want to change with them, you can change in another room.) DM me on twitter if you want to know more @Debrahphillips

Anonymous  

Gender differences shouldn’t matter, if girls want to play with boys let them it’s their choice.

Anonymous  

I am so disappointed by the sexism promoted by Team Snap – perhaps there are better questions to ask about Youth Sports. The question of gender mixing or not is sports is old and worn out. How about civility problems in youth sports?

Anonymous  

The idea that girls should not play on boy’s teams because they have other options and take away opportunities from some boys (which I have read in several comments here) just does not apply to many sports. For instance, very few high schools have varsity or JV ice hockey teams. If hockey is a girl’s sport of choice and she is good enough to play at that level and earn her ice time, why should she be excluded from the chance to play for her school?

Anonymous  

if there is a girl who out worked a boy for a spot on a boys team, she should deserve that spot because it’s not her fault she wanted it more than him. he should have worked harder.

Anonymous  

I think it’s great as long as the boys can also play on the girls teams.

Anonymous  

I have a girl on my team and she’s an awesome team player and bodychecks.I’m totally up with the idea.

GIRLS AND BOYS LETS GO!!!!

Anonymous  

What part of “boys” do you not understand?

Anonymous  

The earlier comment about sexism is interesting. My daughter plays “boys” hockey because she likes contact. You have to question how parents and peers would react to a boy wanting to play “girls” hockey because he wanted to avoid contact. The more we allow and actively support children in their choices, regardless of traditional gender considerations, the more we build individuals who are healthy, well-integrated and have a chance of living lives that are defined by their skills, aptitudes, passions and capabilities and not by their chromosomes.

Anonymous  

girls should be allowed to play on boys teams and visa versa. How about making it coed until 10 or 11?

Shhdwafi  

I honestly don’t believe girls should play with the boys. Not because of the skill level, the gender doesn’t mean anything, its the amount of effort and passion you put in the sport. I just don’t think they will get along. From my experience, it didn’t really work out…

Anonymous  

Should boys play on girls teams? Would they ever get the opportunity?

Anonymous  

I think that the teams should be co-ed. I made the mistake of putting my daughter on the girls hockey team. There is only one girls team and some of the players are very good players and because their skill level is so much better my daughter rarely gets a chance to play. If I had put her on the “boys” team she would have probably been put on a team with a similar skill level. I am guessing a D level were as most of the girls on her team are at an A or a B. She is not the only girl on her team in this position and I have heard some of the other parents complain about the same thing. It is not fair to expect the better girls to play at my daughter’s level and it isn’t fair to my daughter to just stand there watching the other girls play. If we had put her on the regular hockey team I’m sure out of the sixteen teams there would have been one for her skill level. I will not be making the same mistake with her sister

Anonymous  

girls slow my team down

Anonymous  

Boy soccer is for boys. Girl soccer is for girls. I think it should be kept that way.

Anonymous  

They make boy sports for a reason. And girl sports for a reason. They should NOT coincide. It makes it uncomfortable for everyone involved. Boys should play with boys; girls should play with girls… Period.

Anonymous  

OK , take a look at what we have started ! The last thing I am going to do is read another one of these 5 paragraph soap opera stories ! I m the coach from up top and girls rock , but unfortunately boys tend to let off when it comes to contact . ( oh you hit a girl !). Let them play but don’t hold back .If you do that it is sexism.

COACH  

It depends on the reason. Just because they can compete on a boys level I dont think it is a good reason for them to participate together. If you were to do that are we to tell the boy because he can not compete on his level that he had to play with the girls??? I have seen some girls just as good as boys some were even better on thier age level but I still dont think they should compet on the same team. Yes I do know that there are Coed sports but even they have rules that say how many females must be on the floor to participate. Now if your establishment dont have something for the female who wants to play my advice put something together or get ready to share a locker room.

Anonymous  

There is absolutely no benefit for boys to have girls playing on the same team in any sport,Especially hockey my son has been stuck on coed teams for the past 2 years and it hinders his development.If there isn’t enough boys for a certain age group they should be moved up ,to a higher level !

Anonymous  

No then the boys can’t play shirts vs skins

Anonymous  

No, especially in contact sports, because the girls would have a high risk of injury playing against boys.

Positive  

I wholeheartedly agree with Anonymous Dec 9 | 2:51 pm. There is absolutely no benefit for boys to have girls playing on the same team. Also, if you want to do that then men should be allowed to play on women professional teams and be paid the high dollars that the best women get paid.

sue  

I’ve always believed that the women’s hockey would have arrived when no one claimed a girl was good because she’d played with the boys. It is demeaning to say that girls can only be their best if they play with boys. My 2nd thought would be – then why can’t boys play on “girls” teams? It has to go both ways – boys who really like the skating and passing, but don’t want the heavy checking. If girls can skate on boys teams – boys should have the option to skate on girls teams.

Anonymous  

I think that girls shouldn’t be able to because guys could get more rough or physical
However saying that, if girls are willing to withstand that then why shouldn’t they play. if they can be willing to be tough than let them play

Anonymous  

As a girl going into high school, a lot of good points were brought up. I know that in a lot of high schools I’m thinking of attending they have a sports performance program. But you can also do a hockey sports performance program instead. I have talked to many coaches and they say there is usually 0-3 girls in the class the rest are boys. And be cautioned me that because I’m a goalie I could be getting shots on me way harder than I might be used to. My parents don’t want me to be playing because they obviously don’t want me to get hurt but I honestly think that it will improve my game. The faster the puck, the faster my reaction time will be. But I also am a bit worried that because I could potentially be the only girl (most likely only female goalie) they could purposely shoot as hard as they can because they will think of me as a weaker gender.

Anonymous  

thanks for this article. it really helps!

Dad  

My daughter doesn’t have a high school soccer team, so she tried out (the same and any of the boys!) and made the boys U18 club tem at 16. Soccer is her passion and as a parent I have mixed feeling of the possibility of her getting hurt, but she says that many of her female opponents are more likely to play dirty to hurt her than them males. Her club coach (who is the local Division I men’s college coach!) has always treated her as a player, not a girl or boy. In fact, he often uses her technique as an example on how to do things. He also says she is a calming influence for their defense and plays and starts most of the time. She is also a backup keeper for her girl’s team and at one tournament the boys keeper more or less gave up, so the coach put my daughter in goal. She had 8 saves and only allowed one goal and sparked the team to go on and win the match! The team has always regarded her highly and do include her as an integral part of their team! This will be her third year on the team. Yes, I believe it totally depends on the situation, but if the player has the abilities and strength, they should be allowed rather than taking the sexist view on life! Case in point, Mia Hamm, Hope Solo both played on men’s teams! Ya can’t get better than that!

Dad  

POSITIVE, there is one BIG benefit! Teaching young human beings not to be SEXIST!!!!

Anonymous  

Well in my opinion, girls should play with boys we are all equal to each other 0.o

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