Friday Two Cents: Stand Up To Inequality



There was a news story that came to my attention this week. It had to do with a high school soccer game that ended up being highly politically charged. I will provide a link for you to read it but I will recount an abridged version for you.  

Ridiculous! Toronto School Bows To Sharia Law During A Soccer Game

There are these two schools in the Toronto area, one Muslim and the other Catholic and they were playing a soccer game. At the half, the Catholic school was winning 3 – 1 and just before the second half was about to begin, the coach of the Muslim school team said that they would not play the second half unless the two female players on the Catholic team did not play.

Their argument is that because of Sharia Law they will not play with girls. This in its self was enough for me to get very angry because from what little knowledge I have, Canada does not recognize Sharia Law.   Yet what was worst was because the Catholic school needed the points for the standings they benched their two female players and continued the game. Equally Outrageous.

Girls and Boys Playing soccer together

 In many schools if there is no girls team program, they have the right to tryout and if they are good enough, they can play with the boys. That is what happened with the Catholic school but this use of a foreign law in a country that recognizes the rights of equality, including the equality of the sexes, is nothing short of disgusting. I am not sure if I am angry that the Sharia Law was adhered to or the fact that the Catholic school didn’t just tell the other team to shove it, you know where. You see I can’t see how protecting females’ means you can’t play or interact with them.

Yet this whole incident has reminded me of another incident that happened to me. As many of you may know, I coach and run softball and T-ball leagues. In the softball league I have the older students serve as captains and assistant captains to help them learn leadership, teamwork and organizational skills. Many times I choose female captains because they have earned it and I know they can handle the task, sometimes better them the males.

This one incident involved a boy who had a female captain and a male and female assistant captain. The captain and assistant captains told his team what was the game plan but he refused to listen and he did whatever he wanted. He ended up causing an out and hurting his team from winning, but the captains try repeatedly to tell him. I overheard them talking and them he told them that he didn’t have to listen to them because they were girls. I immediately walked up to the conversation and asked him to repeat what he just said. He knew that I overheard him and refused to tell me. I told him what I had heard and it was unacceptable. I said unless you apologize and begin to listen to captains he would miss the next game. I told him that girls are people and equal to any other boy and they deserve your respect because they earned to become captain and assistant captain. He did not want to so I said he was missing the next game.

However that is not the end of it. When his mother came to pick him up, I told her the situation and she was very upset. Not at her son but at me. She was making excuses for him saying that he plays on hockey teams and there are no girls on the team. Or that he is just a boy and boy will be boys. I told her that in the real world this behavior is not acceptable and that I was trying to teach him that it was not.   She continued until I said if he apologies to the girls then he could play. She said ok and walked away.

However the next day I was brought into the supervisor’s office to talk about the incident and what she told me was nothing what had actually happened. She was ball face lying to the supervisor. I recounted the story to her and she believed me and would talk to the parent. But she would not listen and even threatened legal action. I was furious that she would 1) lie to cover up her son’s mistreatment of girls and 2) she actually defended his actions against them.

Girls and boys plyaying baseball together.

In the end I decided to be the bigger person and apologize to the parent over the phone even though I knew I was in the right and made that perfectly clear to my supervisor. She completely agreed with me but was very grateful for me taking this course of action to make peace and swallowing my pride in this matter. Eventually she accepted my apology from my supervisor, not me, but that student never returned to play a game again.  

That whole incident was, to be honest, very upsetting. Not because I had to swallow my pride on my beliefs but because the parent did not see the blatant sexist remarks her son had made. This woman is not an immigrant or someone not familiar with Canadian culture, but a white, middle class professional woman. That is what truly made that incident so upsetting. If a fellow Canadian, with the same values as me, not teach her own child or stand up to inequality, then more incidents like that one will eventually grow into stories of girls sitting out soccer games.


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