Recreation and Leisure at West Chester University started a new rule for their co-ed intramurals that give women an advantage over men, and the women are fighting back.
In April 2011, Dr. Steven Gambino, head of the Recreation and Leisure department at West Chester, attended a NIRSA (National Intramural-Recreation Sports Association) meeting where he was chastised about not being up to par with NIRSA rules for gender issues.
Dr. Gambino then brought the issue to the recreational staff where no one spoke up either for or against the new rules. The new rules were therefore instated this fall at the beginning of the Intramurals season. The new rules included the women’s points (in co-ed intramurals only) counted double that of the men points, it also stated that there had to be a fair number of girls on the field/court as guys at all times.
There were many reasons this rule was created by NIRSA, but the biggest reason was to level the playing field between the men and the women.
“I think they got these rules because men were just signing up in co-rec leagues and just put in girls so they can be in co-rec and then the girls were just statues not actually playing. It was male-dominant so NIRSA got a task force to even the score, they wanted the girls to be more than just bodies : they wanted them to participate,” Dr. Gambino said.
However, the girls at West Chester beg to differ.
“At first I felt outraged, then embarrassed and finally just shocked. It is a rule based entirely on (gender) and not on skill level, performance or experience. I walk onto that field with an automatic handicap in a game where I have always just wanted to be treated as equal,” Katie Hennessey, co-captain of the Purple Quails soccer intramural team, said.
This is not just an issue with the women at West Chester; the men also see an issue. Hennessey’s other co-captain, Kenneth Miller, also is speaking out against the new rules.
“I have played in this league for two years now and I can tell you from experience that there are girls on every playing field that out-perform me, and many other boys, every game. In my opinion, emphasizing a difference in gender does not accomplish anything in terms of making an even and level playing field. In fact, it does the opposite,” Miller said.
Hennessey began a petition around campus to try and get one hundred signatures to reverse the rule.
However, Hennessey’s petition may not be needed.
“Deep down I know that we will revert back to the old rules. We should have done our homework and realized that the issue NIRSA is addressing does not happen at West Chester. We were never trying to make it a sexist rule. We thought we were helping the girls get involved,” Gambino said.
Dr. Gambino plans to have an end of the season meeting with all captains or, if the captains are male, women spokespersons, for a meeting to decide whether or not to keep the rule.
Jackie Valentino is a fourth year student majoring in English with a minor in journalism. She can be reached at JV671648@wcupa.edu.