Monday, February 4, 2008

Boys vs. Girls

Lately at school when given the opportunity to divide themselves into fair teams for playing games, the kids have gone with the gendered split. The divisor that appears on the surface to not leave anyone out, and if they skill levels and abilities are matched within the teams it makes it easy. We don't have any kids in the program that are itching to play for the girls/boys teams in contrast to their class mate's placements of them. At least vocally. This is a segregation technique that I personally am not a huge fan of, just because I at times growing up did want to play for the other team, not because they were better, or they were winning, but I think I knew.
I once went home from grade 5 because I joined in a soccer game in which I was told I was not welcome. This was a boy's only game I was yelled at, "get off the field". I took the ball and started on my breakaway. If they didn't want me to play there was no way I was going to waste anytime. I ran towards the net, dribbling the ball as good or better than those boys could. They finally cornered me and one boy, who I still remember his name, but will remain anonymous here, grabbed me square across the shoulders. One of his 10 year old hands on each of my ten year old shoulders. Then, before I knew what had happened his knee went straight into my crotch, at full soccer playing force, while he held me down with his hands. I buckled onto the field and he spat, "I told you this was a boys only game, and whats so bad- it's not like that hurts, you don't even have balls."
I spent the day in my moms office, rolling around in the courtesy wheelchairs, ice in my sweatpants. It didn't stop me from playing gendered sports, I followed it up with 3 years boys football, where I was the one all the other team's linemen talked about.
"You hit the girl, I don't want to hit the girl"
"Girl, what girl? I didn't know there was a girl on the team."
"Take number 50- she's a girl."
"I don't believe you, but I'll take him."
I took a break from playing male sports when the rest of the guys hit puberty and all of a sudden were bigger than me. I was so upset, threw a fit cause I couldn't move up because of my size. But I was more upset that those changes weren't happening in my body.
The kids that I work withs bodies haven't changed, they are all younger than I was when I got sacked over soccer, and they like to segregate by gender. I let it go when the teams look even, but I always feel like an infiltrator, traitor, or substitution when I am playing on the boys team, against the girls. Especially with that age, I knew who was on my team, not by choice, but it was the girls. I am still sometimes surprised that I get put on the boys team, cause I feel an allegiance to both. I should be the impartial ref, or the leader who spends 20 minutes trying to split the kids onto fair teams they won't cry about that aren't split by gender. I don't know if I am the only one out on that field who feels like they're on the wrong end. I do know that thinking about that is something that doesn't even cross the minds of many/most childcare providers, teachers, or activity leaders.
Let's divide into even teams- whats your starting criteria?

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