By Kelsey Norris ’16
At Andover, sexism in our athletic department sneaks in through the cracks. It appears through decisions, through advantages given to boys over girls over and over. Sexism decides which teams receive their varsity jackets the fastest and receive the best practice times and fields. We all notice and discuss that the boys’ Varsity Soccer field is far superior to the girls’ field, and that the boy’s Varsity Baseball field is directly behind the gym, while girls have to walk all the way to the Isham field. However, we often overlook the sexism that water polo players face in the pool.
This year was my first year managing the boys’ Varsity Water Polo team. Even though I fostered many great relationships, I was shocked to discover the sexist rules that I was forced to comply with as a manager. I thought that as our male managers are allowed to play with the girls in the water, I would be allowed to play with the boys team during practices. Contrary to this belief, I was not allowed to play with the boys, and I was told that this was for two reasons. The first reason was that the administration was afraid that I was not capable of holding my own in a difficult, high contact sport. The second was that it would not be beneficial to the boys for me or any girl to play with them.
These rules perpetuate the idea that boys are bigger and more talented than girls, and that girls are too fragile to play sports alongside boys. I understand why the possibility of the boys accidentally harming their managers could be a concern, but I do not understand why then that they are still allowed to play with us. Especially since last year, one of my managers accidentally punched me in the face during a scrimmage. If the goal of these rules is to prevent these accidents from happening, I believe that the boys should not be allowed to play with the girls team. It is not okay for the boys to simply be expected to “go easy” on us because this creates a system in which the boys are dominant over the girl players. Andover needs to strive for a system in which both male and female sports teams are expected to adhere to the same rules.