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MIAA News: Field Hockey and Boys on Girls Teams

By Robert Mingolelli
Boys playing with, and against, girls in high school field hockey has been a controversial topic in Massachusetts since 1979.
     On Friday, May 29 representatives from the Mass. Coalition to Preserve Girls Field Hockey made a presentation advocating the advancement of opportunities for girls participating in Field Hockey. A spokesperson for the coalition stated that the principles of opportunity, fair play and safety have been compromised for girls participating in field hockey.
     The coalition also has been advocating for some form of change to the current system in which boys are allowed to play on girls’ teams in MIAA field hockey since the 1979 court ruling. Following the presentation, dialogue regarding gender participation in relation to Massachusetts Law occurred along with other clarifying points within the presentation.           An MIAA spokesperson shared with the committee that a rule change proposal is being submitted to sanction 7v7 boys field hockey in the upcoming MIAA Handbook rule change process. While a solution might not be right here, the MIAA Field Hockey Committee discussed and eventually voted 11-1 in favor of a rule change that potentially would create 7-on-7 boys’ field hockey as a separate sport. There will be further discussion on boys’ field hockey structure at future meetings.
It’s certainly not an overnight thing, regarding what is expected to be a long process involving input from various groups across the sport and the MIAA.
     An MIAA Field Hockey meeting during the summer of 2020 has been formed to provide opportunity for the field hockey community to engage in pertinent discussions to assist in promoting the sport.
     I really enjoy watching a field hockey game when the playing field is level, girls competing against girls and boys versus boys. But 15-18 year old boys are often bigger, stronger, faster on average than girls and can do severe physical damage to a female opponent’s head, knee, etc. during the course of a game.
     Shamelessly, I will mention my daughters Christine and Anne who both played field hockey among many other sports at GD in the 1990’s. That was the era when boys were allowed to participate in girl’s field hockey because there were no boys’ field hockey teams. You can imagine the uproar that caused! Some coaches refused to compete against teams with male players.
     I can clearly remember my daughter, Anne, all 5 foot 2 inches of athletic tenacity, competing against a six foot plus player from Narragansett Regional. She was not going to nor did she back down against this bigger, physical athlete but proceeded to battle him throughout the game. When I asked her recently about that game she reminded me recently that “while GD lost 2-1, it was not a blow out, and the two boys on the ‘Gansett team scored both goals for their team.” I don’t believe that there was ever a crowd as enormous as there was for that game!
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