Northwest recently started the season of coed ultimate frisbee, an outdoor sport during the coldest time of the year. Coed sports are newer to the Northwest School’s athletic program, and currently, ultimate is the only coed option on a high school level. While playing in the winter does not bother everyone, and Seattle doesn’t have such horrendous weather that practices can’t occur, it is certainly not an ideal season for outdoor sports with all the rain and wind. Unfortunately, there is no other time for coed ultimate as it is sandwiched between the boys and girls season in the fall and spring. Additionally, it fits into other schools’ and DiscNW (Ultimate association) schedules. But a few questions can be raised from the lack of accommodation for coed sports, namely, why have coed sports never been prioritized, and why is there a lack of coed sports on a high school level?
A simple answer would be that there are not many coed leagues in Seattle schools because coed sports have never been seen as important to the public. The view of coed sports being inferior comes from the idea that the male and female sex are biologically different, therefore there is no reason that they should be able to play together. While it is true that there are biological differences between different sexes, that does not discount the fact that every athlete has a different skill set, and creating more opportunities for coed sports could create more diverse and interesting plays in various sports. There is also the idea that men and women should not mix in sports at all, or that sports are only important if men are playing. While being an outdated view, it is still held consciously or unconsciously by many people and is derived from gender roles and stereotypes. You can see this occurring in the pay gap between men’s and women’s sports, valuing men’s sports at a higher rate despite women’s leagues being just as impressive. Another issue is that certain sports are viewed as only for certain genders. For example, there is only a female volleyball team at Northwest despite students asking for a male or coed team, which again limits the options that students have when it comes to sports.
Denying coed sports at schools perpetuates these ideas as well as discounts the fact that some students simply like coed sports better, as they can play with their friends, and they like the atmosphere more. Additionally, the lack of coed sports can make uncomfortable settings for people who do not identify as male or female or who have transitioned from one gender to another. It creates ethical issues and forces people to either completely forgo an athletic experience, or join leagues that they do not identify with.
While this is a huge issue, a single school cannot decide to incorporate coed sports into its athletic program because there has to be a collaboration between Seattle schools in order to have games and form leagues. There are not many solutions to this predicament available at the moment, as the sentiment towards coed sports is still generally negative or impartial. Many schools are not inclined to pursue the formation of coed leagues. The biggest thing that we can do right now is to open a discussion to pressure schools to offer a broader range of coed sports. Part of a school’s goal should be making sure their students get the most out of their education. By restricting students’ opportunities to play sports through creating a setting where they have to engage a gender binary or be uncomfortable and marginalized, then the schools are not holding true to that goal.