From the stands, Lake Shore’s sports seem no less than superlative. With roaring fans, a new gym, and admirable stats, they are a force to be reckoned with. However, what the crowd can’t see from the stands is the gender inequality behind the scenes of Lake Shore athletics.
Three varsity athletes have come forward anonymously to bring awareness to this ongoing inequality in the hopes of a long-overdue change.
One notable inequality is the fact that boys teams have gotten grey and black colored jerseys, while after years of inquiring about the aforementioned jerseys, the girls basketball and volleyball teams are still being denied. Anonymous Student 1 says, “We’ve been trying since we’ve been on varsity sports to get black jerseys. This year, the football team got grey jerseys, [so] we tried to get grey jerseys.” After attempting to get either black or grey jerseys, the girls were denied, only for the boys to be given the jerseys. Anonymous Student 2 recalled another memory regarding the colored jerseys, “Before we came to school here, so we were in eighth grade, the volleyball team actually ordered black jerseys. They paid their own money for them, and they got their names on the back, all nice and everything.” After the purchase of the jerseys, the athletic department refused to let the girls wear them. The team was even addressed at tournaments just to ensure that no black was being worn. What these anonymous students are asking for is more than just new jerseys, it’s equality, “If you want them to have black jerseys”, says Anonymous Student 1, “you have to as least give us the opportunity to get black jerseys. And if you really don’t want us to have them then you can’t let them have them either.”
More evidence to prove that gender inequality on the court is a prevailing issue is also uniform related. The girls varsity basketball team had asked permission to wear bright and colorful tennis shoes, but were told that they could only wear white, grey, red, or black ones. “But then we show up at the first boys game,” Anonymous Student 2 recalls, “and all of them are wearing bright blue, bright pink, like bright shoes.” The trio reflected on another memory regarding the shoes, explaining how one girl on the team tried to wear blue shoes, but was told she couldn’t.
The girls varsity basketball team has also tried unsuccessfully to get music approved for warm ups. The team is not allowed to have “songs that have even innuendos. Or if it has a spot where a swear word was bleeped out, we can’t use it because people know that the swear word is in there,” says Anonymous Student 1, “but with boys, I feel like [the] rules are a lot looser, and they can have songs that have adult content in it.” Anonymous Student 2 agrees, commenting, “One year, we made a CD, and we bleeped [the swear words] out and [we weren’t allowed to] put it in there because [we were told that] everyone knows what they’re saying. But they played the boys’ CD, it was like, the game before districts, we went and watched them play, and none of the songs were edited. They all had swear words in them. They said the N-word in one of them, it was all in there. The F-word [too].”
What may be the most concerning issue of all, however, is the inherent usage of the weight room during girls games versus boys games. If the boys are having a home game that night, the girls are not allowed to use the weight room at all during that day. However, if the girls have a game that night, the boys are permitted to use the weight room the entire day prior to the game, and even during the game. Anonymous Student 3 explains, “The girls are not allowed to use the weight room when there’s a boys game that day, but boys can use the weight room when girls have a game, and while the girls are playing.” Facilities at Lake Shore should be accessible to all students. So, the question remains, Why are these facilities being made more accessible to male athletes?
While all of these incidents may seem minor in comparison to serious gender inequalities in other aspects of American society, they all add up one conclusion: gender inequality is present in Lake Shore athletics.
*The quote “Two years ago, the [boys] soccer team got black jerseys.” and the line “That same year, the boys soccer team could be found sporting black jersey on the field.” have been retracted from this article.