At Kingswood Oxford, like at many other independent schools around New England, a sports requirement takes the place of physical education [gym] classes.
While this alternative has seemed to work well for many years, enabling students to explore new sports and helping KO field competitive teams, issues arise when there are disparities between athletic teams; such imbalances are avoided in physical education courses that remain mostly the same across the board.
The end of the school year marks an opportunity for reflection, including reflection on this year’s sports seasons. This retrospective examination of sports at KO reveals the unfortunate inequalities between boys and girls sports.
The highlight of the fall season was the under the lights football game. Despite the tough loss for KO football, the evening was still fun for the many fans who attended. However, there is really no equivalent event for girls teams. Although girls volleyball hosted a Dig Pink match in honor of breast cancer awareness month, the event was almost entirely planned and funded by the team itself.
Compared to other Hewett Day games, the night football game drew much larger crowds, including many alumni, and was complemented by food trucks, a KO store, and other activities. While this difference between Hewett Day games may have extended to all other sports games, it demonstrates an unfortunate trend where certain programs are appreciated more than others.
The KITs are a major event for both girls and boys basketball teams as well as students who come to watch the action. Although both teams have similar schedules throughout the tournament and face similar competitors, the boys games often draw more spectators and social media coverage.
These discrepancies between the boys and girls teams have a negative impact on female team members and damage their sense of value within the KO community.
These inequalities continue into the spring season as well. Girls track for example has to wear mens uniform tops. While it may not seem like that big of a deal, the uniforms are, in some cases, ill fitting since they were designed for boys. More importantly, the inability to provide the correct uniforms to female athletes demonstrates a failure to adequately value girls’ teams.
The uniform issues go beyond the track team too. Girls basketball also wears mens jerseys in small sizes. Most boys teams at KO have multiple jerseys, while certain girls teams are only provided with one. Although some sports are required to have home and away jerseys, this luxury is not extended to other sports. Girls volleyball, for example, was forced to design and provide their own T-shirt jerseys for their Dig Pink game. This resulted in some complications during the game since the numbers were only printed on the back of the shirts.
Additionally, the successes of girls teams are often downplayed compared to their male counterparts. Girls varsity tennis, for example, took down Loomis’ squad during their match on May 11. Even though Loomis is a major rival, who many of our teams struggle to compete against, the girls received little praise.
It is the principle of these inequalities that causes upset among the KO community. Plenty of the girls sports teams here are just as successful as the boys teams; however, the unequal treatment makes it seem as though the school values the boys teams more.
Following years of disruption because of the COVID-19 pandemic, athletics have finally returned to normal. There is no better time than now for our community to reevaluate how we appreciate both girls and boys teams, in order to create a community where every athlete feels valued.