Opinion: The comments affect everyone


Credit: WSPN Staff

Deirdre Brown

“Get off the field!” “How’s it feel to play a girls sport?” “Put a skirt on!”

I have witnessed grown adults yell all of those comments at my two male teammates on our field hockey team. As captain, it’s my duty to console them about these offensive statements. The boys don’t let the insults get into their heads, for which our team is extremely grateful. However, that does not make it okay for them to have to deal with this harassment.

The boys are learning a new sport. If a girl was learning field hockey and made a mistake on the field, no parent or referee would ever think to scream at them. So why does that make it okay for teams and parents to laugh at a boy for missing a ball or slipping? Why is it okay to scream at someone for an accidental play? It isn’t.

It’s not just the opposing fans, but the heckles come from opposing coaches as well. How an adult can yell at a 17-year-old is still beyond me, yet it still happens.

With coaches, parents, and players making hateful and strong comments, it’s astounding to me how the boys keep their calm. But what happens when it’s no longer the boys dealing with the comments that we have to worry about? Referees have become some of our worst nightmares as well. While the referees are doing their job, there is an obvious bias against the boys.

A particular moment in a game that I remember vividly is when one of the boys had a breakaway, no one in front, and he was headed towards the goal. He went to take a shot, but missed and slipped. He slid towards the goalie, but missed crashing into her. It was an innocent clumsy moment. Immediately after, the referee screamed: “No slide tackling allowed,” and threatened to give him a card. There are two different effects of this incident and similar situations to it. The first is the boys are forced have to underplay. This makes them step back from the ball when they think they will get called, and not play to their fullest potential. This shouldn’t have to happen. The boys aren’t allowed to fully play the sport they signed up for. The second is that our team becomes angry for the duration of the game, and there is a referee who is already mad at us. This creates tension on the field which inhibits our play.

Our team does a good job of keeping our cool, even in heated situations, but harassment and biased calls create an environment where our team is on edge, generating frustration throughout the game. It’s unfair for our boys, and team, to be treated like this. As a captain, I find myself constantly having to calm a lot of people down, while also trying to remain relaxed and composed myself.

There is nothing wrong with boys playing field hockey. They practice just as much as us, and care about our team the same, if not more. Field hockey is a non-contact sport, which allows everyone to be safe, even with boys playing. A girl can play football, so why can’t a guy play field hockey? They go through the tryout process and have to put in the same amount of work as everyone else. The boys are not “taking a spot” from girls because they earned a spot on the team. The boys don’t start every game, nor do they play in every game, but they are valued teammates and they deserve to be respected as such.