If you’re going to play in a girl’s soccer league in America in 2017, you probably should have long hair, lest you want to get a good look at the wonderful world of adults in organized youth sports.
In Madison, Wis., the girls on one soccer team –The 56ers — have been hearing it from opponents’ parents and officials because they like to wear their hair short. They’re pushing back, however.
One of the girls wanted to look like Abby Wambach, the two-time Olympic gold medalist; one cut hers because she didn’t want to get yogurt in it; one wanted to look like Ellen DeGeneres.
They’re 11 years old now, about the age when kids learn that many adults will stop at nothing to ruin youth sports.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel today says their problem is they don’t look enough like girls.
One opposing parent went up to some of the girls and asked their names.
“My daughter responded with ‘Stella’ and the parent didn’t believe her,” said Tom Blau. “My daughter came back to my wife and just cried.”
Blau said it’s not uncommon for opposing coaches and parents to scold them for having boys on the team. They tell the girls the only reason they win is by cheating.
“People have said they’re afraid their daughter is going to get hurt playing against boys,” Blau said. “(Our girls) are just physical and are playing the sport the way it’s supposed to be played. When we tell a parent on the other team that they’re girls they just say, ‘Yeah right.'”
Once, the team went up to receive medals at a tournament, but didn’t get the congratulations that they thought they deserved. A referee told the girls they didn’t deserve to get medals because they played with boys on the team.
“They say, ‘They’re too good. They move like boys,'” Julie Minikel-Lacocque, Adah’s mom said. “All these players have experienced the same discrimination, and I really would call it that. From teams demanding passports and accusations of cheating. It’s incredibly damaging to the girls.”
In the league, players have to provide a birth certificate indicating gender when they register to play. That should be the end of it where opposing teams are concerned. But it’s not.
“I hope at the very least it makes people pause and think, ‘Hmm, maybe I should reflect on my bias views. Maybe I should think about what I just said or what I just did,'” the mother of one player to the Journal Sentinel. “‘Or even better, ‘Maybe I should pause and not even go over there and say something.'”
The kids have created T-shirts — Sixer Strong — for girls who like to wear their hair short which declare that “power doesn’t come from a haircut, but from a passion for the game as well as the freedom to be who you are.” The front of the shirts says “Try and keep up.”