Positive Reasons for Coed Sports
Many schools and sports leagues have separate teams for males and females, while others allow coed sports for those who want it. Federal Title IX regulations prohibit sexual discrimination in educational institutions and allow females to play on male teams if no teams exist for females. Coed teams promote an environment where everyone gets to play.
Sexually-segregated teams perpetuate the belief that female athletes don’t play as well as males, according to Laura Pappano, coauthor of “Playing With the Boys: Why Separate Is Not Equal.” Pappano suggests that gender segregation dismisses female teams as inferior to male teams. She suggest that evaluating each athlete’s skills and populating teams with individuals based on skill levels could reveal the fallacies in the belief that male athletes and teams are superior. Assigning team membership based on skill levels allows teams to be more competitive and recognizes the athletic skills of players regardless of gender.
Coed teams encourage mutual respect between genders. Praising and rewarding players based on skill demonstrates that knowledge and understanding of a sport, physical expertise and ability don’t fall along gender lines. Encouraging coed teams at beginning levels and ages teaches kids to evaluate others on skill and may help change beliefs regarding gender inequality in sports.
Confidence and Cooperation
Coed sports motivate athletes to compete and train together for the benefit of the team. This encourages an athlete to take pride in her accomplishments and demonstrate confidence in her ability to successfully compete with players who have similar skill levels. Team players see the advantages of cooperation for success and learn to choose players based on who has the greatest ability to succeed. Team players can learn from one another, particularly from differences in the ways males and females process information. Coaches who foster this spirit of equality and appreciation of players based on individual skills can nurture all players to do their best and pull together.
Some small schools and communities have learned that offering coed teams allows more players to play for a smaller total cost. Coed teams can mean smaller coaching staffs than what would be needed for separate, sexually-segregated teams. Coed teams also reduce complications in scheduling competitions in terms of apportioning time and space on playing fields. Additionally, requiring sexually-segregated teams could mean that girls don’t play if a school does not have enough female players to build a team.
Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.