Gender divisions in sports have been established and are currently being used today in America. Despite this fact there are still coed sports teams and leagues that exist and welcome the cooperation between both. Examples of these include coed volleyball leagues, baseball and softball leagues, racquetball, touch or flag football, floor and ice hockey, and team tennis. Each coed team or league provides numerous benefits to both genders. These include the elimination of stereotypes, improved respect, and providing opportunities. However, the elimination of men and women’s sports should not take place. Americans should have the choice to decide if they want to participate in coed sports. To eliminate coed sports entirely will only increase gender stereotypes and the divisions between both genders. Coed sports have their place in America and should be allowed to continue.
Denying the right to coed sports in America would take away existing benefits that both the youth and adults enjoy. The first benefit of this dynamic is the elimination of gender stereotypes. This type of stereotype does not only exist in sports but in American society as well. To eliminate them first in sports would be an excellent step forward for both genders. One example of these stereotypes includes the idea that women are always physically and mentally weaker than men in competitive sports. This has been proven wrong in not just coed sports but in women’s sports as well. Coed sports however dismantle these beliefs firsthand by allowing men and women to play alongside and against each other.
Furthermore, an example of this has been seen in the sport of football. By allowing women to play alongside men competitively in a sport that is still seen as masculine, is quite groundbreaking for the effort against gender stereotypes. According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, “there were more than 1,500 girls playing on boys’ football teams that year, and the trend was growing with a 17 percent uptick since 2009.” For a sport that has remained male dominated this not only tackles stereotypes but presents opportunities to the females who previously could not participate. There are women’s football teams and leagues that exist but are very few. To allow entry into men’s leagues and teams allows females to have greater accessibility. The presence of women in football however has been seldom in the collegiate and professional levels. Youth leagues to high school teams have been the major recipients of female players but in the future this could change. By showing that football is a sport that both men and women can play through the implementation of coed sports can change this dynamic.
In addition, the concept of respect can be displayed through coed sports. According to author Jeffrey Rhoads, “Allowing girls to compete alongside and against boys enhances their view of themselves and makes them more resilient.” Also, it shows males that females are capable of competing alongside them and gender should not play a role in deciding this. Coed youth sports allow these ideas to be embraced at a young age which also has great benefits. Child psychologist Laura E. Berk states that “between ages 9 and 11 kids begin to develop gender stereotypes.” By involving kids in coed sports at an early age provides them the opportunity to avoid these beliefs before they have a chance to grow.
Despite these benefits and opportunities, not all agree with the idea of coed sports. Opposition has been given over the years for various reasons. One of the most prominent is that physical interaction between females and males during play can be deemed sexual. This is naive thinking and according to author Jean O’Reilly, “sex research consistently shows that physical familiarity usually de-eroticizes male-female relations” (O’Reilly 70). Also, another criticism is that females are more likely to be injured while playing. Despite the validity of these claims, it should be the athlete’s decision on whether or not they want to face the challenge. Male athletes in leagues such as the NFL and NHL are currently sacrificing their bodies and facing the dangers of concussions every time they play. Females should be given that same choice.
Alternatively, the elimination of women and men’s sports should not take place. The divisions between the two in the collegiate and professional levels offer athletes who are not elite or above average the chance to compete. For example, in sports such as track & field and basketball, if the divisions are taken away it will combine the elite of the two teams together. For those who are not the stars of their rosters they will most likely lose their spot. Also, not only will spots be lost but records and fans will be lost as well. Records for the two separate teams will be lost or forgotten since the new coed team places them in irrelevancy. Also, for the fans who cheer for their women or men’s teams it could lead to unrest if they lose them. The coed teams and leagues that are currently in place should be allowed to continue, but to force it upon every sport will result in confusion and unrest.
In conclusion, the choice of coed sports should be allowed to continue in the United States. By providing benefits such as improved respect, elimination of gender stereotypes, and the increased number of opportunities it leads to a great experience for everyone. For football, it will give females more accessibility and can lead to more opportunities in the collegiate and professional levels. However, the existence of men’s and women’s sports should not end since it will limit the opportunities for those who are not elite, records will be forgotten, and fans will become upset at the removal of their teams. The coed sports that currently exist should continue and the sports that do not have women’s teams should become coed. If the opposition is put to rest and coed sports are allowed to thrive, it will not only be an achievement for sports but society as a whole.