Revisited: What’s So Sexist About Girls’ Sports Day?

Gelsey Beavers-Damron

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For almost thirty years, Asheville School celebrated an event called Girls’ Sports Day, but as of last year, the day is no longer on our calendars. For those who were not lucky to be here when Girls’ Sports Day was around, it was a day set up in 1990 to celebrate the female athletics at the Asheville School. The day was meant to celebrate the importance of girls and their contribution to a once all-boys school. In many ways Girls’ Sports Day was intended to be a female-driven counterpart to Christ School Week. My freshman year, the last year the day was held, I remember what a great event it was. Everyone was happy and joyous as they went to cheer on our amazing female athletes. Since it was a day set aside for us to commemorate the girls at the school, the girls of the past, and the theme that the female body of this school is important and should be cherished, I and my fellow athletes felt a sense of unity with the former students that is rarely felt. However, this day did raise some interesting and important questions. Was Girls’ Sports Day a patronizing pat on the head to our female athletes? Did it exclude
or marginalize the importance and accomplishments
of our male athletes? Was it exclusive to only the Fall Season athletes and exclude non-athletes? And more importantly, was it necessary? The school’s answer to this was giving us Fall Spirit Weekend, as well as including a Winter and Spring Spirit Weekend. Doing this allowed us to celebrate both gender’s accomplishments without singling out a season. Its theory, this was a great addition to the school year. Now, we can celebrate athletes all year long and have more spirit-related events throughout the year. Never the less, did Girls’ Sports Day need to be cut out entirely?

The most rational reason for its shortened life is the idea that we are singling out a particular group to celebrate. Following this logic, by praising the girls’ achievements over everyone’s is dividing us more, rather than trying to unite. So there is some basis for this idea. Why shouldn’t we celebrate everyone’s accomplishments? After all, we all want to be seen as equal. But this is a double-edged sword. If we follow this idea to its logical conclusion, events like Black History Month, LGBT History Month, Women’s Equality Day, and even Mother’s day would cease to exist. All these events aren’t meant to separate us, but are meant to help us remember our differences. When we see events like Girls’ Sports Day as a way to separate us, we completely miss the point.

To shrug Girls’ Sports Day off as sexist and outdated would be to undermine the very important history of the school. Instead of looking at this event as one that pities female athletes, treats them as “not real athletes,” and separates them from the male athletes, it needs to be seen as what it truly is: a day that celebrated the fact that once upon a time in our school’s history girls were not allowed to attend, and when they were, sports were not an option for them. The day is synonymous with Christ School Week in the way that it is a chance to remember what the school was like at one point and how it has changed. The only thing that should be changed about Girls’ Sports Day is that it should be held with the same importance of Christ School Week. While adding Fall Sports Weekend makes things equal for both male and female athletes, Christ School Week is still a male driven event. Before the change, both genders had some sort of representation. The female population is left with 50% of a day, and the boys have 150%. Is that equality?

Now, a compromise must be found. If the problem is one of seasonal representation, then incorporate the day into the spring
or make sure that it is more inclusive. If the day is exclusive to athletes, then make sure to make it a celebration of all the female student body. If the problem is that it gets little representation compared to Christ School week, then make Girls’ Sports week. But if you say that it’s a sexist, worn out tradition, then you are clearly misguided. While the argument can be made for its inherent loss of meaning, it is important to keep traditions alive. In an age where gender equality has become ever more important, we as a community must be one that honors the accomplishments of those who came before us. But in the end, it is important to see that the removal of Girls’ Sports day has taken away an important part of this school’s history and has done the opposite of what the change was meant to do. Girls’ Sport’s Day is important, and it should be brought back

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The Asheville School's Voice
Revisited: What’s So Sexist About Girls’ Sports Day?