Jazmine Fiedler – Feature Editor
December has rolled around again. A month for cozy, rainy days, hot cocoa, and a warm fireplace. At Arcata High, it’s also a time for… you called it! AIBT! Last year the campus was raging for the 50th annual Mens Arcata Invitational Basketball Tournament. That’s all fine and dandy. I love a good boy’s basketball game as much as the next school-spirited high schooler. My concern lies in the utter lack of attention given to WAIBT for the Women’s Arcata Invitational Basketball Tournament when the girls work just as hard. “It’s such a big time commitment. During the season it’s a big time commitment but then it’s a big time commitment the rest of the year too,” said Senior Raja Cohen in reference to her sport. But the girls on the team love it, ““I really like how competitive it is and I like the whole team aspect,” she said. Junior Tia Franklin stated “I love my team and the support and love we give each other. I like to win too.”
Unfortunately, the women’s team is not given the same level of recognition as the mens.
Why is it that this year is the Men’s 51st AIBT whereas WAIBT was not founded until 2014, only 5 years ago? The answer is quite clear my friends: sexism. “WAIBT is definitely underrepresented and it’s been going on for a lot less. For AIBT there’s a whole assembly and everyone gets so hyped about it and for WAIBT it just kinda, like… happens,” said Cohen.
And it doesn’t stop there… every year men’s AIBT is granted a rally to get the crowds ready for the big games but even though Senior Kori McCracken has been working with leadership for the past two years, it has not yet happened. Leadership teacher, Jennifer Coriel explained that the problem this year was that the idea for the second rally wasn’t brought up until too late in the school year. The assemblies are always planned in August. Leadership member Serena Abrey said, “I think it’d be really cool to do a Women’s AIBT rally and make it as important as the guys AIBT tournament because we’ve done the guys’ for years and it’s super fun and everyone looks forward to it and I think if there were two back-to-back tournaments … that it’d be super fun for the school and… the girls should have just as much support as the guys.” Franklin felt strongly about the absence of the WAIBT issue. “I believe that the absence of a WAIBT rally is just sexist and there is no excuse for not having one.” She said she has been working to make it happen. “I am actually working on making an AIBT pep rally starting next year.” Women’s basketball player and Senior Liberty Seda said, “Yes, it does bother me that the WAIBT girls get no rally when the boys do and I think it says alot about the way AHS is run.”
Even if the WAIBT rally is too much this year, what I can’t comprehend, however is why we can’t simply combine the non-existent honoring of WAIBT with the very much existent honoring of Men’s AIBT into one basketball-themed rally. Cohen thought so too, “It would be kinda cool if we did a tip-off rally for both the teams, like, that would be really cool,” she said.
I am not removing myself from the blame either, however. How can we, as members of the Pepperbox consider ourselves feminists if every December we print another AIBT issue? The articles found in it are always predominantly about the boys team with one article near the back mentioning something about our “lady tigers.” “It’s always just a little blurb on the side. I mean, All around I would say that it kinda bothers me a little bit that AIBT is such a big deal and WAIBT is just like ‘eh,’” said Cohen in reference to the Pepperbox. AHS Senior Kali Zanotti said, “It sucks that the boys always get the AIBT issue for Pepperbox and the WAIBT doesn’t.” This year, myself and another member of the paper proposed a WAIBT issue. We wanted to swing the pendulum in the opposite direction, so to speak, but we were immediately shot down by every other editorial voice on staff. Looking back, I can now see how that could be seen as a brash move. Ideally, everyone is considered equal. But how is it equal when the majority of this very issue is focused on the boy’s basketball team? In fact, this year’s paper, although mostly focused on AIBT, is more centered towards equality than any other AIBT issue published in the past five years since WAIBT began. This is a step in the right direction and it stemmed from Danielle Witten, the advisor for the Pepperbox reading this article. After a discussion, we realized we were on too tight a deadline to make this paper half and half, with two front covers, as we commonly do for the Pepperfaux but Jack Taylor gave me his word that next year the Pepperbox would publish an issue based on equality.
The average counter-argument as to why AIBT has such a higher attendance is that “they are more fun to watch” according to Franklin, but she believes that is “complete sexist BS.”
Cohen believes it stems from preconceived notions, “‘It can be more exciting to watch. It goes at a faster pace or it’s more intense’…. even if that’s not always the case it’s just kinda like, perceived to be the case that boys basketball is exciting and girls basketball’s boring so everyone goes to the guys games and not the girls games.” Another reason WAIBT is skipped is that the boys tip-off games take place the same weekend. ““The boys have their tip-off tournament the same weekend at Mckinleyville so everyone just kinda goes to that instead” Cohen explained.
I can only imagine how frustrating that must be. Your working year round to do your best at a sport and then the would-be best time of year to show your talents to the world, your peers and their parents are paying attention to the boys team.
Sadly, this imbalance and sexism appears not only in high school basketball. Women continue to experience it throughout their life and it takes people like the WAIBT players to take it upon themselves to organize their own kick-off rally, or people like me to write this one article in the back on the “lady tigers” so that maybe next year or the year after that, the center spread will be half women and Arcata High School will truly promote equality.