Sexism in Massachusetts High School Athletics

Boone Gross and Ella Lehrich

In the United States, high school sports hold an important role in many students’ lives. Although as many female students participate in some sports as male athletes, female sports receive significantly less publicity, funding, and fewer resources compared to boys athletics. The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA), a statewide athletics organization, has many roles. The MIAA organizes tournaments, ranks athletes and teams, and educates coaches. Many high school athletes in Massachusetts will interact with the MIAA at some point in their career, but their experiences may differ greatly based on their gender. Almost all high school sports have some form of a state tournament, which provides an important opportunity for athletes to show off their skills.

When it is time for tournaments, the facilities provided for boys are much higher quality than the ones for girls.”

However, the resources and media attention given to the boys and girls events vary greatly. For example, though the Massachusetts state tournament for girls wrestling on February 26th and 27th occurred at the same time and place as the tournament for boys, the MIAA failed to provide enough
mats for the girls to wrestle on, while providing plenty for the boys.  Because of the fewer mats the girls were not able to wrestle as often and their tournament lasted more days than necessary. Additionally, the girls brackets were created only ten minutes before the tournament, while the boys bracket was established more than one week in advance. Furthermore, the media attention and advertisement largely focused on the boys tournament; when asked, many coaches knew nothing about that of the girls. When it is time for tournaments, the facilities provided for boys are much higher quality than the ones for girls. Resources for the boys always seem to meet the standards of what both genders should be receiving. A severe disparity has also emerged between girls and boys sports attendance. Many fans attend to support the athletes, and in some cases, venues will sell out well before the starting whistle. However, ticket sales at Malden Catholic High School tell an interesting story. Ticket sales for the Sweet 16 boys basketball game against Agawam were almost triple that of the girls hockey game held at the same time. Malden Catholic Athletic Director, Bill Raycroft, told the Register Forum that athletic departments are giving “equal publicity and equal opportunity for all genders.” At the school level, people are trying their best to be able to give everyone the same treatment they deserve. While athletic directors and departments across the state make efforts to provide equal opportunity, the overwhelming criticism from student athletes throws many of these claims into question. The MIAA is a large and complex organization with many moving pieces and red tape at every level. The association has faced criticism in other quarters, and many complaints cannot be dealt with in a timely manner. However, when it comes to gender equality on and off the field, it is the MIAA’s duty to provide the resources to create a fair environment. So far, it is clear that they haven’t.