An injury to a female athlete by a male caused a Massachusetts school superintendent to call for changes to gender-specific participation in high school sports. The injury places the debate over athlete rosters at the center of public attention.
Dighton-Rehoboth Regional School District Superintendent Bill Runey called for a change to existing rules that allow male and female athletes to participate in the same sports leagues if there is not a league available for each gender. The controversy stemmed from a male player participating in a field hockey game.
During a game between Dighton-Rehoboth and Swampscott High School, a female player was struck by a male player’s shot. The incident caused the female player to lose several teeth and require hospitalization.
The superintendent cited the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association rule, which has been in place for more than 40 years. He said that despite the existing rule, “this incident dramatically magnifies the concerns of many about player safety.”
“Seeing the horror in the eyes of our players and coaches upon greeting their bus last night is evidence to me that there has to be a renewed approach by the MIAA to protect the safety of our athletes,” Runey said.
The athletic organization said that it understood the wider concern about safety, but that student safety has not been a successful defense to excluding students of one gender from participating on teams of the opposite gender.”
“The arguments generally fail due to the lack of correlation between injuries and mixed-gender teams,” the league said in a statement.
The field hockey injury correlates with a wider concern about the participation of biological males in female sports.
Activist Riley Gaines supported the effort in a social media post. Gaines played with biological male swimmer Lia Thomas.
she called on NCAA president and former Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) to comment.
It's reported that male player (#2 for Swampscott) knocked the teeth out of female player. Males are allowed to play on female teams in MA because of the "equal play act"
— Riley Gaines (@Riley_Gaines_) November 3, 2023
A number of biological males have entered into female sports leagues, despite concerns about strength advantages. Despite this, a number of schools allowed for players born male to participate in leagues of the opposite gender.