Since javelin throwing became an option in 2019 and girls wrestling on the horizon for 2020, sanctioning more high school sports looks like a realistic option.
As someone who believes athletics should be for everybody, I’ve been pretty pleased to see that additions to the FHSAA’s list of sanctioned sports are coming. The recent news about positive developments on the girls wrestling front has been especially good to hear.
Maybe now that interest in sports traditionally linked to one gender is growing among those of others, we’ll finally get to see high schools offering something for everyone sooner or later.
This is obviously a much bigger deal for women than men. We’re seeing so many more stories of women breaking the mold by getting into mens’ sports wherever they can these days, whether they’re playing for teams at the high school level and below, refereeing games, joining professional coaching staffs and front offices or even making it into the broadcast booth to call games on live TV. Say what you will about physical differences and whether men and women should play together on teams at or above the high school level — I’m not getting into that firestorm today — but all this says there’s undeniable interest and passion for the mens’ games that in many cases equals or exceeds our own. With that in mind, why keep waiting so long to sanction these sports at the high school level?
If girls want to wrestle, they’ll soon have their own all-girls teams and official state championship series. Girls can already try out to join boys sports teams — something that’s happened several times in our area since I’ve been here — but why not give them the opportunity to field all-girls teams in traditionally male sports like baseball and 11-on-11 football in full pads?
With the boys in mind, why not extend them the same courtesy when applicable? The window of sports for girls that boys traditionally can’t or don’t play is much smaller, but there is one big thing that jumps to mind right away. Given how popular the sport is with adult men young and old, there’s got to be a healthy interest in FHSAA-sanctioned boys softball that hasn’t been tapped yet. Getting into rec league softball is almost as popular an option for men as playing golf, and we already offer boys golf at the high school level. You can’t tell me no one would want to play high school softball.
The one thing that would hamper schools’ ability to offer so many sports at once is money. Nothing’s free here. Here’s what you could do, though: let the FHSAA sanction said sports and, if there’s enough interest and money available in the budget, give it a shot on that level. If there’s not enough interest, that’s where school-affiliated club teams could come in and hopefully fulfill enough expectations to make their schools willing to go all-in and register with the FHSAA sometime down the road.
Sports get better when we open up more doors for athletes who want to feel like they belong in them. Right now we’ve got a few walls blocking athletes from trying things they’re interested in. I read somewhere that every wall’s a door to something new. If that’s true, why not let them through?