Sports Opinion: Discrimination in girls’ sports continues with the start of basketball season

Maddie Sofnas

Since the start of Redwood sports, the inequalities between the girls’ and the boys’ teams are apparent and unchanged. It is obvious that the Marin County Athletic League (MCAL), who determines league game times, is demeaning girls’ sports, particularly basketball, as their poor times lead to less viewership. Additionally, Redwood furthers the inequalities within the sport since the varsity cheerleaders cheer for the boys’ varsity basketball team and the junior varsity (JV) cheerleaders cheer for the girls’ varsity basketball team. Furthermore, Redwood supplies the boys’ basketball teams with a significantly larger locker room than the girls’ teams. This disparity is clear, and the girls deserve to be treated equal to the boys, especially considering the girls impressive MCAL season in 2019. MCAL needs to stop prioritizing boys’ sports and give the girls the recognition they deserve in order to eliminate the stigma surrounding female athletes.

Currently, the girls’ varsity basketball team opens and plays before for the boys varsity team, suggesting that MCAL believes the girls are merely the opening act. The girls start their weekday games as early as 6 p.m., while 7:30 p.m. is the boys’ earliest start time. The earlier start times warrant significantly less attendance, as it makes it more difficult for students and parents to attend, and paints the boys game to be the main event. If the Redwood basketball game times were compared to the structure of a concert, Redwood views the boys game as the main band or headliner that is saved for last. Placing the girls’ games first is a conscious decision by MCAL, and this needs to be fixed in order to equalize the two teams. There is no justifiable explanation against the idea that the basketball teams switch off who gets the luxury of playing in the later time slot.

Additionally, Redwood could switch which basketball team gets varsity and JV cheerleaders, as cheerleaders alone bring in viewership and energize crowds. With the current schedule, Redwood is giving the impression that the boys team deserves the better and more experienced cheerleaders. Gender inequalities are not only seen in high school sports, as there are major inequalities seen in professional sports too. 

Currently, the salaries of Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) players are significantly smaller than that of National Basketball Association (NBA) players. Their average salary is slightly less than $100,000, which is only 1.5 percent of the average $7 million salary the NBA has. Many people attribute this blame to large corporations for not putting enough money into the WNBA, let alone marketing women. Golden State Warriors power forward Draymond Green believes companies need to step up so women get the rights they deserve.

“Well, how about all of these people that are running these big-time companies with these huge marketing dollars, these huge marketing budgets, put that money toward telling the story of Diana Taurasi? Like I said on Twitter, we know the story of LeBron James. We’ve heard it a million times. Do you think those stories don’t help the connection between a fan and understanding that player? It does. But no one puts the money toward the marketing of women. So, as great as Diana Taurasi is, you don’t know her story because these companies don’t put money toward marketing women,” Green said in an interview with the National Broadcasting Company.

Taurasi is not receiving the recognition she deserves, despite an abundance of impressive awards. After being drafted as the first overall pick in 2004, she has gone on to win the Rookie of the Year Award, three WNBA championships, one Most Valuable Player Award (MVP), two Finals MVP awards, five Olympic gold medals and has been selected to nine WNBA All-Star teams. Her salary is only $119,500. As Green stated, her accomplishments are extremely impressive, but due to little recognition on social media and the stigma around women’s basketball, these are often overlooked. If a man ever accomplished this, he would be bombarded with endorsements and known worldwide. Women are facing an uphill battle that starts in high school, and Redwood needs to step up and level it out. It does not matter the level of skill on the boys or girls team — the boys will always get the recognition with this current and discriminating system.

 Right now, boys basketball games are bringing in more spectators, which many people may use as justification for better game times and cheerleaders. Despite this, in the 2019-2020 season, the girls’ team was ranked significantly higher compared to the boys’. The boys finished with a 12-13 record and were ranked 52nd in North Coast Section (NCS), while the girls were 24-5 and ranked 15th in NCS. When the boys team got knocked out of NCS, the varsity cheerleaders went and automatically cheered on the girls team. This proves that they don’t cheer for who is better, but rather they cheer for the boys until they have no other team to cheer for but the girls. 

Redwood must begin to alternate the main event game between the boys’ and girls’ teams, in addition to switching who the varsity cheerleaders support. This must happen in order to obtain a more fair, less sexist system that puts the girls and boys in an equal spot. On the Tamalpais Union High School District (TUHSD) website they state, “[TUHSD] prohibits sex-based discrimination in all educational programs and activities, including athletic programs.” In order for them to adhere to their word, change must be made. This is blatant discrimination.