Equality of WFS Athletics in Question

Olivia Ivins '20

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The pressure of team competition and our athletes’ drive to succeed contributes to the tight-knit community we have at WFS. Community is valued highly according to our Quaker spices, and is visible on the field and sidelines where alumni, parents, and other athletes gather to support their friends and family. Our athletes dedicate themselves to their sports, therefore bettering their team is a priority. Recently, athletes have questioned the implication of equality, another Quaker spice, among teams. Female athletes believe that the athletic department favors the male sports over their own. For example, the volleyball team feels they lack proper supplies while, in comparison, other sports have received equipment in abundance compared to them. Jeff Ransom, head of the athletic department, cleared things up regarding distribution of the funds.

Ransom stated, “My priority is enhancing each and every team with the means to function successfully and to the best of their ability.” He does this by breaking teams down to each player and their needs, and the needs of the team in whole. Using this system allows him to provide each team with sufficient funds and opportunity. Coaches and the athletic department meet to discuss needs for their season, and curate a list of priorities to remedy with the fund allocated. This priority list is then used to fairly distribute the money where it needs to go. However, if money is donated and earmarked for a certain team, this money will be used to remove priorities off the list and move the rest up. Each team, with respect to the amount of players, has funds that are split into three separate necessity categories. These necessity categories are equipment, operating needs, and uniforms. Equipment is recognized as capital needs, meaning equipment that is necessary but expensive. Operating needs are things like balls, cones, pinnies, and so forth. The third category of uniforms in handled equally by placing all sports teams of that season, including middle school, on a rotating schedule for new uniforms. Ransom says, “I do this so every athlete has the opportunity to wear a different and new uniform at some point during the high school career.”

Additionally, female athletes feel that male sports receive more opportunities and attention. Carson Davis-Tinnel ’19 said, “Some sports receive coach buses and transportation for fans more often than others.” The athletic department makes decisions about team buses based on the length of the trip and room for equipment. Football, having the most games outside of our conference and the needing much storage space generally places them as a priority. When talking to female athletes about their concerns, most agreed that something needs to change. This was reinforced by upper school Health and Human Dynamics teacher, Sue Kampart in more detail, “We’ve (women) made a lot of progress, but I think we still have a long way to go.”

The understanding of equality in sports is very different when looking behind the scenes. Upper school History teacher and coach of Field Hockey and Soccer, Scott Clothier, presents a different understanding of what may be perceived as inequality, “If you look at the progression of sports over the past sixty years, men were the first to receive these athletic opportunities, so there is possibly an historical oversight in regards to sports equality.” He was not the first to present this idea as Kampart mentioned this as well. The perception of unequal opportunities among sports may actually be due to where women in sports are today. Only in the past fifty years have women been recognized for athletics, which is recent compared to history of sports overall. With this, a new age arises for the representation of women in sports. Junior, Jayden Elliott ’20, had this to say about fixing this problem, “If we want to see change in our community, it starts with the students. Everyone has to support each other, it’s not girls sports vs. guys sports, it’s students putting their foot forward for change, and once the administrators and people with power to make change see the student body putting their foot forward towards change and equality, they will do the same.”

Overall, this problem or perception of inequality within our sports must be addressed. Students who challenge the status quo and demand equality will be the catalyst to a wave of change within our community.

 

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