Students weigh in on co-ed intramural sports gender-bias rules


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In intramural sports, women can be some of the most dangerous scorers, but not for the reason students would expect.

Some students participating in IM sports find issue with the gender-biased rules in several sports that give female players advantages.

Scott George, head of intramural sports at Central Michigan, said the rules force both genders to be involved equally and prevent strategizing against genders.

Others see it differently.

“I have played IM sports ever since coming to Central, and it has been a big part of my experience here, but I am bothered by the gender-based scoring systems,” said Kelsey Friberg, a Caledonia junior. “Compensating for girls' innate inability to match male athletic superiority by making their achievement mean more, as a female, I find it sexist."

In some co-ed sports such as dodgeball and basketball, the rules are intended to even the number of men and women on the playing surface. For others, the rules become more complicated.

“I played co-ed softball and there were so many rules that were different for each gender, I honestly didn’t even know the rules,” said Grand Rapids sophomore Lindsey Rebholz. “I like the idea of gender rules, but it becomes complicated.”

In co-ed softball, a male is awarded two bases on balls, the pitcher and catcher must be different genders and there has to be even gender distribution in the outfield.

In flag football, women touchdowns count as nine points while men's count as six. Passes must also be to receivers of alternate genders after every other completion.

In indoor hockey and soccer, goals scored by women count as two in comparison to men's one-point goals.

“We haven’t had many (gender biased complaints),” George said. “For spring sports, we sent out a survey, we have done that for the past two years and that is how we get most of our responses. Out of probably 200 to 300, we only had one or two people complain about scoring in indoor soccer."

If students wish to change the rules, George said they will need to step up and be more vocal. If the rules are to be changed, there has to be overwhelming feedback.

George said this season, two participants came to him at the IM soccer captains meeting and said they didn’t agree with the gender biased rules. He said they wanted their co-ed team to count female and male goals equally.

One of them was the IM soccer team known as "The Proper Nouns." Lakeview senior Sean Bannen, who was the captain for his team, made the argument for co-ed rule equality at a captain's meeting.

“I see why they count two goals in the beginning because of the cultural myth that (women) are inferior at physical sports," Bannen said. "It was trying to give them a chance to play in the game and to be valued team members. I just felt that is was perpetuating that cultural myth by awarding them more goals; instead there needs to be a drive to recognize the equality all across.”

In competition against team ROTC, their opponent agreed to the counting all goals as one point before kickoff and "The Proper Nouns" plan to continue to push for changing gender rules.

Through surveys and discussion boards on IMLeagues.com, the official website for IM sports, students can be vocal about what rules they want to change.

In the past, IM basketball used to make dunking illegal until student support drove a change in the rules.

"I think I am more than capable playing with Mr. super-serious IM stud," Friberg said. "And even if not, I’d rather lose by equality than win by compensation.”


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