Many students said that a person shouldn’t have to change their sport just to be able to pay less. Also, the same students felt the number of students participating in sports if they were all funded may rise; cost is always a participation factor. This would benefit the district for abiding by Title IX in athletics and address substantial proportionality. To adjust the disproportionate number of male and female student-athletes, students feel that the district should reallocate the money going towards the funded sports to have the money more equitably spread across all sports. To accommodate for excess needed funds, the teams can continue to fundraise to their desired extent.
Currently, Timmis said there isn’t enough money in the district to fund all sports.
“For us as a school district, our options are to pay for more sports or put more kids in a classroom,” Timmis said, expressing he would rather hire more teachers to lower the number of students in a classroom. “We’re not putting more money in the bank. We’re lacking money to pay staff members enough to keep them.”
Even if a school such as DHS meets one of the prongs under Title IX, it must also treat males and females equally; they must be receiving equal benefits and services from their school. This can be met by equal quality and quantity of equipment and supplies, fairness in scheduling games and practices, equal financial support for travel and expenses, fairness in assigning and paying quality coaches, and equal facilities. It doesn’t mean Dexter has to provide identical and equal benefits and services to their athletes, however, they must be treated equally overall.
Members on the field hockey team and other sports have felt that the athletic benefits have not been comparable between all male and female sports. From the start of the field hockey program in 2010, the team has been denied benefits of athletic support, facilities, and equipment. Field hockey has historically worked with football when scheduling practices and games; the football calendar is dictated by the state. The coaches from both teams have coordinated practice times and even sometimes shared the field. This previous season was different because both teams didn’t have to share the field. According to Timmis, he decided to place the football team at the grass fields for practice, while field hockey practiced at Al Ritt.
Some football players voiced concerns that field hockey prevented the football team from practicing at Al Ritt. Taking a look at the practice times for the 2018 fall season tells a different story. Football generally began practice at 3:30 pm, while field hockey generally began practice at 5:30 pm. Football could’ve used Al Ritt during the two hours field hockey wasn’t practicing. Secondly, the football coach complied with a request from the field hockey coaches to share the locker rooms. This was the first year the field hockey team had access to a locker room. For seven years, field hockey has been using the track shed as storage and as a meeting space.
“We didn’t know [the field hockey team] wanted a locker room until the year before,” Timmis said, noting that if other sports wanted to use the locker room they would be granted access.
Apparently, having access to a locker room is not a given; one must ask for equity.
If you have ever been inside or seen this shed, it is clear that a team of 40 people would not be able to fit. On top of size, consider the access to shelter during hazardous weather. During a field hockey game at Al Ritt in 2017, it was delayed because of lightning and both teams were instructed by the referees to take shelter. Without access to real locker rooms, Dexter offered the “spacious” shed to the visiting team, while the field hockey team along with the girls cross country team took shelter in the tunnel. The men’s varsity and JV teams were sheltered in both locker rooms.
More than twice in 2018, the field hockey team was taken off the previously-approved schedule for use of Al Ritt stadium. This forced the Dreads to coordinate practices at Skyline High School. In response to this inequity, field hockey held a silent protest during one of the peewee football games on a Sunday, lining up their sticks along the fence at Al Ritt in opposition.
In refusing to be moved off campus for a second consecutive week, the two-time state finalist team opted to conduct a modified practice at home on the grass before their playoff game. They continued to practice by focusing on strength and using the grass patch directly outside the stadium. Although this had no real effect or change, it raised curiosity and awareness of the issue.
A turf field to field hockey is like an ice rink is to hockey; it’s necessary. A turf field is not essential for a football game. Field hockey needs the smooth, flat surface to be able to utilize skills and moves, and, most importantly, to keep players safe; the ball may travel up to 50 mph in a high school game. It’s a completely different game on a grass field since the ball moves a lot slower and different directionally.
Some district officials have stated that the new twin turf fields will address scheduling conflicts. But will the new twin turf fields help address facility inequities?
From the 2017 bond, a portion of the money went to building these two new twin turf fields adjacent to the high school. These fields were supposed to be completed in August of 2018, however, they weren’t completed until mid-October. This proved to be a major factor in field hockey and football displacement.
“Girls soccer isn’t allowed to use the turf field because of men’s lacrosse," senior soccer player McKenna Graham said. "Usually, senior night is played on turf - the only time we get to use it - but we weren’t allowed to this year because of the boy's lacrosse team, even though we had the field reserved. Also, we aren’t allowed to use the new turf fields and our field is s*** because the school doesn’t take care of it."