Your Kid’s Not Going Pro

A Youth Sports Blog

Florida officially declares high school football a coed sport

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Florida high school girls, if you’ve ever wondered about whether you should go out for your tackle football team, wonder no more.

You don’t need to be worried that some good-ol’-boy coach is going to point you to the cheerleading tryouts. You don’t have to fret that your classmates will think you’re some sort of lesbian, and not the hot kind who appears on Howard Stern. Most importantly, you do not have to shoulder the burden of being a female breaking into a male sport.

That’s because the Florida High School Athletics Association has declared, in court, in very legal language, that football is a coed sport.


Likely Seminole High 2009 starting lineup.

If some local version of Gary Barnett tries to pick on you by saying not only are you a girl, but you’re terrible, so what? If you do this right, there are going to at least 50 other girls right there with you on the practice field. After all, the leaders of high school sports in Florida said this is how things are supposed to be.

Well, technically the FHSAA is ass-covering with its Sarah Palin-timed response (right before the July 4th holiday) to a lawsuit against its board’s 9-6 vote in April to chop varsity sports games by 20 percent, and junior varsity, and freshman games by 40 percent, for the 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years — for everyone sport except football and competitive cheerleading. You can’t cut football, because that’s a moneymaker! And you can’t cut cheerleading, because who the hell is going to yell their pretty little heads off for the football team?

If the FHSAA had just cut everything across the board, as New York has done, it might have been OK. After all, schools are funded by property taxes, and Florida’s are adjusted annually based on the average home sale price in January. As you might expect in a once-hot, cratering real estate market, schools are watching their bottom lines bottom out with every budget cycle.

Alas, by carving out an exception, the FHSAA left itself open to a lawsuit, and indeed a class-action case was filed in June on behalf of six girls, on the basis that the policy disparately treats female athletes under Title IX, the 1972 federal law requiring gender equity in school sports.

So there is where crisis meets opportunity for you football-loving Florida girls. The FHSAA did not say it was good on gender equity because (dragging its feet until the NFL pushed for it, and until someone reminded the association of Title IX) in January it began offering girls’ flag football as a varsity sports. Given that the Indiana High School Athletic Association dropped its own equating of baseball to softball after a girl sued to overturn its no-baseball-for-the-fairer-sex rule, the Florida folks probably figured a court wouldn’t buy that brand of reasoning.

No, the FHSAA says tackle football is a coed sports because three girls play it. Statewide. Along with 36,000 boys.

OK, technically the FHSAA is correct. However, in real life, most football coaches would welcome a girl running on their field as much as they would a case of MRSA running through the locker room.

It’s possible the FHSAA will lose its lawsuit (more like probable, given Title IX’s legal winning streak), or hastily amend its cutback plan in a July 15 meeting, scheduled two days before the next court hearing. At that point, the FHSAA might try to soft-pedal what it said in court.

But the legal rule is, no take-backsies! Girls, through its legal filing, the FHSAA has explicitly endorsed — nay, demanded — your participation.

The principals can’t do anything to stop you. The athletic directors can’t do anything to stop you. The coaches can’t do anything to stop you. And damn well those snot-nosed, stinky boys can’t do anything to stop you.

Get a few friends together. Get a lot of friends together. Get a lot of girls who aren’t even Facebook friends together. Then march down to the football coach’s office, copy of the FHSAA’s filing in hand, and tell that whistle-blowing, big-gutted tough-ass that you’re all playing football this year, and there ain’t a thing he can do about it, so what blocking sled should we hit, dammit?


3 Responses

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  1. […] help is stupidity like, say, responding to Hogshead-Makar’s lawsuit by declaring football a “coed sport” (because three out of 36,000 players are girls) for the purposes of defending yourself in a Title […]

  2. […] The Benjamin School is the craziest thing to happen to Florida high school football since the state athletic association tried to declare it a coed sport to defend a Title IX lawsuit. […]

  3. I am so glad the FHSAA is pulling a Palin as far as the co-ed football is concerned, However, Rodger Dearing , Prez of the FHSAA, continues to discriminate against students with disabilities. He has been known for his dismal of the special needs programs and even went as far as taking the ESE program off of the Manatee County School Board web site when he was the superintendent. Oh, sure he liked the money that he gets for special needs but he doesn’t like spending it on the kiddo’s that need it. In accordance with Florda Law Section 1002.20(7) that basically states that all programs and opportunities offered by the public educational institutions must be made available with out discrimination on the basis of disability….. Section 1002.20 2 specifically speaks to the McKay scholarship for the student to attend a private school. Section 1002.20 (18) speaks directly to athletics and extracurricular activities, “ORGANIZATIONS THAT REGULATE OR GOVERN EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITES OF PUBLIC SCHOOLS MAY NOT DISCRIMINATE AGAINST ANY ELIGIBLE STUDENT BASED ON EDUCATIONAL CHOICE OF PUBLIC, PRIVATE OR HOME EDUCATION.” This is what the FHSAA is doing to my son and a few others like him. They aren’t allowing them to play football at their district schools,”because they go to a special private school.” I was even told, ” THESE KIDS WERE TAKING UP SPOTS FROM THE PUBLIC SCHOOL KIDS THAT DESERVE IT.” As if my child is less deserving because he attends a private school because if his disability even though I pay taxes on two houses in this county. My son is less deserving I guess. Mr. Dearing, the FHSAA and I will all have our day in court. God willing, I will be taking one more step to make discrimination of any sort a thing of the past!!!

    Jill Murphy-Schaeffer

    February 24, 2010 at 12:30 pm

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