Same name different sport


Grace Gaul

On a Saturday afternoon, Jr. Callie Brondyke sat in the bleachers of her brother’s first lacrosse game while she was in 6th grade, “I noticed how aggressive they got to be with each other and how much fun it looked,” she said. 

   A few years later, “when I started playing it was a rude awakening that the girls game could have no contact,” she said. 

   Many girls that play lacrosse once hoped that they would be able to play as the boys do; for some female athletes, it was the reason they started playing lacrosse.

   So why are the games so different?

   Is this a gender bias issue?

   The games require different skills; the boys are able to be physical and use their bodies to score and move the ball while the girls’ game strictly forbids physical contact and focuses on finesse and ball handling. Sr Kaley Hendrick said, “Boys and girls lacrosse are completely different games.” 

    Faceoffs, defense, stick lengths, pocket-size, protective gear, and even field dimensions are different for boys compared to girls. 

  A possible explanation for this difference is that the girls have different equipment. While boys get to wear helmets, pads and have longer sticks, girls just have goggles and mouth guards. The equipment variation may be a reason why girls have no contact. However, there’s no reason safety precautions can’t be put in place to allow girls to play with contact.

  This difference is frustrating to female athletes. 

Boys and girls basketball and soccer both have the same rules. They are both considered “ball sports” and have contact, so why is lacrosse different?

   Varsity boys lacrosse coach Rick Becker said, “The physical aspect of the boys’ game is an integral part of the sport;” 

   Why do the boys have such a focus on contact and the girls have such a focus on skill?

   Athletic Director Bill Kennedy said, “Over the years I feel both the boys’ and girls’ games have become more physical, but certainly the boys game leans more heavily towards that physicality.” 

   In the girls’ game, it is difficult to be assertive or aggressive when playing because the players can barely come into contact with the other team. The female athletes are becoming more annoyed with the excessive rules because it starts to pick away at their playing time. 

    Jr Kylie Hower, one of the girls’ lacrosse goalies said “there is a call almost every play against contact, and it makes it where it’s not even playing” There are so many rules against contact in the girls game it is hard for them to even play without interruptions every time someone comes in contact with another player. Jr Sarah Moraw said, “we waste a lot of time on the field standing there waiting.” The constant calls for “dangerous” contact and the penalties leave the girls wasting away their game time. 

   Brondyke said, “Guys can beat the crap out of each other and if we did that it’s a red card and we get called out.” The girls are ready for a change.

   Sometimes it may seem like the rules in girls’ lacrosse are a little dramatic. For example, when an attacker is trying to shoot, there is a certain area where the defender cannot be because it is the attackers shooting space and it is considered dangerous. This is unfair for the female goalies, they have no other way of defense because their defenders can basically do nothing to stop the attacker other than check their stick. Also in the girls’ game, if the attacker is shooting on goal and they shoot it too close to the goalie’s head, a foul is called and the goalie gets automatic possession.

  These rigorous rules are only enforced for female athletes, causing the girls to wonder why the games are so different. “I do believe this is gender stereotyping, as the people who designed the rules are implying that girls are not as able or willing to take or give a hit,” Moraw said. 

   Many female players would agree that they would benefit from a change in rules regarding contact.  “We [female lacrosse players] would all play a much better game if we were allowed to do what the boys do,” said Brondyke. They could be assertive and actually be able to defend their goal so their goalie doesn’t end up with a one-on-one shootout. Moraw said, “Overall we would play a more aggressive and assertive game with the boys’ rules.” The fact that the girls have to worry about touching the other team is ridiculous because almost every other ball sport requires contact to be able to play. The boys’ team doesn’t even have to have that thought run through their minds since physical contact is legal.    

   The sports are labeled the same name but are not even close to the same sport. This seems to be a gender bias issue. People would think that in lacrosse the different gender teams would have the same rules just like almost every other ball sport. Lacrosse is the only sport at West Ottawa that has such a drastic change in rules between genders. 

   Let’s ask this question again… Why are boys’ and girls’ lacrosse really so different?