Tuesday, February 04, 2003

Sexist super snub boots Supernova from league

By MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- London Free Press If you can't beat them, get rid of them.

And that's exactly what the London and District Youth Soccer League did. In a decision that was as regressive as it was stupid, the league voted to prevent a girls' team from playing in an under-13 boys' division. The London Supernova girls' team played last season in the boys' under-12 division. The team finished third in the 12-team league. But when the Ontario Soccer Association changed its policy and allowed individual leagues to vote on whether girls' teams will be allowed to play with the boys, the teams saw their opportunity to put a girls' team back in its place and voted to not allow the Supernova to play in the under-13 boys' division. The vote of 40 teams saw 75 per cent in favour of dumping Supernova. Three cheers for male superiority. If you can't beat them on the field, we'll hammer them in the boardroom. It seems there's more than one thing males envy. No one can provide a good reason why this has happened. The only reason is that one team is made up of girls. See what happens when political correctness runs amok? This never happened when men were running the joint. There's one thing that has become as obvious as a punch in the eye in this debate. There was little or no concern shown for the girls' team. Few cared how the decision would affect their team or their feelings. The concern focused on the poor boys who are forced to undergo the humiliation of playing a girls' team, on how the boys' game is affected or how difficult it must be to get beaten by a girls' team. We're told the boys are uncomfortable in dealing with the situation. No doubt the adults who run the teams are uncomfortable. The boys can't handle those so let's punish the girls. Makes sense to me. Aldo Caranci, who voted on behalf of the London United Soccer Club, said allowing girls to play against boys "wrecks the whole game for boys . . . you don't want to hurt (the girls.)" This is a new day and age where many women and girls are just as competitive, as ornery and as tough as the boys. They don't need protecting. But if you don't want to play against girls, prove they don't belong. Run them into the ground. Kick their butt. Show them how superior the boys are. Supernova coach Geoff Painter is a smart soccer guy. He certainly won't see any advantage in having his team thrashed on a game-by-game basis. He knows as boys and girls get older, there are changes that occur that in most cases preclude girls from playing against boys. But not until they are older. Watch just about any sport in London and up until the age of 14 or so, you'll find girls competing against boys successfully. It's obvious from Supernova's high finish in the division that competitive balance couldn't be used as an excuse to turf the girls. So the league chose to decide this issue off the field and the membership grasped that straw as the only sure way to get rid of the girls' team. That noise you hear is the predictable nattering of the good old boys. Let the boys play in the girls' division. Absolutely. But even given the chance, most boys' teams won't play in a girls' division because in the long run, it won't help in developing a strong program. That's what this is all about. It's not about taking over and invading a male's turf. There are few teams such as Supernova who can respond to the challenge of playing against the boys. For them, it's all about finding ways of improving their soccer program. After years of being in the soccer wilderness, it has been the girls' and women's programs that have put London on the soccer map. Those programs are now as good as any in Ontario and Canada. That's because they think outside the box. They accept new challenges many of which involve stepping in uncharted territory and they are willing to respond to those challenges. A lesson others could certainly learn from.


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