Playing through unfairness

Morgan Ford, Co-Sports Editor

27th, October, 2022

Take a walk into the girls’ locker room at Arcata High, and you will see paint chipping, stalls that don’t lock, and small, rusty lockers.

This is what the female athletes of Arcata High face everyday, while the boys enjoy a spacious, fully functional, clean space. If you walk the short distance to the softball field, you might want to laugh.

Gopher holes, gravel where dirt should be, and an uneven playing surface. Let me tell you, playing on this field is terrifying and dangerous, and I’m not the only athlete who deals with this.

There are many differences between the treatment of boys and girls athletics at Arcata, but the area we need to focus on at our school is all athlete’s rights to equal facilities, funding, and equipment.

Most students at Arcata High do not exactly know what Title IX means, or how it could impact them.

When I spoke to senior baseball player Cedar Cline, he defined Title IX as “The NCAA’s ‘law’ that boys and girls

scholarships need to be equal,” and also stated that it “only affects high school athletes if they are trying to play their sport in college.”

However, this is far from the reality of the law. The law does reach down to high school student athletes, and expands to any school that receives federal funding.

My assumption that there was a lack of knowledge regarding this topic continued to be true when I asked sophomore softball player Alexa Alto. She told me she didn’t even know that Title IX was a thing so there was no way she could answer that question.

Title IX, enacted nearly fifty years ago, is a federal law that prohibits sex based discrimination at any school that receives funding from the federal government, specifically in sports programs.

Title IX offers a wide variety of protection, from athletics to admissions, and as far as sexual harassment.

When I first started school at Arcata High, I realized that the locker rooms I had to use, along with our softball field, were not up to date. I knew I was not the only person noticing these issues.

There are many examples of inequalities in athletic facilities at our school, with the most recent complaint being the lower field that was just built.

The two most blinding issues in my eyes are the differences between the boys’ and girls’ locker rooms, and the dangers that lie in the softball field.

If you were to walk into the boys locker room at AHS, you would see nice lockers, functioning showers, and relative cleanliness.

However, if you went across the gym to the girls’ locker room, you would see quite the opposite.

The lockers are run down and some don’t close, more than half of the showers don’t work, along with many other issues. In addition to the locker rooms themselves, the girls are also lacking a “team room,” while the boys locker room contains a very nice, separated space for athletes and coaches to meet.

Another issue that has affected myself and many other athletes is the softball field. Not only does the quality of the field impact the softball team, but it has also challenged the girls soccer team, cross country and track, and occasionally football.

Last school year, before the new lower field was complete, the girls soccer team split much of their practice time between the outfield of the softball field and the senior lawn.

While practicing on the softball field, many of the girls experienced injuries due to potholes, gopher holes, and other hidden issues in the grass.

Football was also forced to practice on this field through the last two years, and Senior player Cedar Birdsall expressed that “the softball field is a f-ing shitshow, and I hated practicing on the outfield.”

The same patterns show up every softball season, with multiple players getting injured just by running through the outfield. Since my freshman year, we have been told this issue would be fixed, yet nothing has happened until now.
Playing or practicing on this field is dangerous, and has impacted multiple sports teams on campus.

The head softball coach, Steve Sarchett, described the field as “in need of a lot of improvement to be up to par with other facilities on campus.”

When we learned that there was a new facility being built, there was a glimpse of hope for the softball and the girls soccer team.

However, that was quickly taken away when we noticed that the softball field was getting no attention. We would have to spend yet another season on the same dangerous field, risking more hurt ankles and torn muscles.

Sophomore softball player Taylor Sutherland explained that she was scared to play on the field, because “girls rolled their ankles so often last year, it’s a safety hazard.”

Many students on our campus, athletes or not, see the need for change in sports facilities, funding, and equipment.

Sophomore Alexa Alto added that these inequalities go as far as advertising. She had also noticed that sports such as football and boys basketball get much more attention from the school, despite their performance, than sports like girls golf, softball, and girls soccer.

Northern Humboldt’s Title IX Coordinator, Gayle Conway, explained to me what Title IX means to our school.
“When there is a complaint made or issue brought up that falls under Title IX, it is my job to investigate and address it, Conway said.”

“At this time, no complaints have been brought to me regarding sports or athletic facilities,” Conway said.