Ending the Gender Divide?

Experiencing co-ed sports at Garfield


Art by Maile Quenzer

The sports world has gone through an array of changes in recent years. Co-ed teams, or teams that are open to athletes of all gender identities, are a fairly new development. As opposed to single-gendered teams, co-ed sports offer a place for people of different gender identities to practice together, and in some instances even compete together. Garfield offers a variety of co-ed sports, such as cross country, track, tennis, ultimate frisbee, golf, and wrestling. These teams are unique experiences and opportunities that may allow students to be able to participate in sports which they otherwise could not. 

Historically male sports now have options for female identifying players. Temas can now be open spaces for people who don’t feel comfortable playing a single-gendered sport due to their personal gender identity. Though in the sports world, there exists a clear gender divide. Biological differences in athletes have historically caused differences in funding, support, coaching techniques, and competition. A major question when it comes to co-ed sports is if these teams amplify this divide or work to minimize it. 

Lydia Craemer is a senior at Garfield who has participated in both co-ed and single gendered sports throughout her time at Garfield. She’s done cross country for the last three years as well as both girls’ and co-ed ultimate. Craemer talks about the gender divide, saying “I think that the divide has gotten immensely better over time, I think it used to be a lot worse, but as long as there’s that community there, it’s pretty nonexistent. But I mean, there’s always that kind of subtle [divide].” Another major question in the world of co-ed sports is how and to what extent inclusivity should be highlighted and enforced. When posed with the question of if she felt that coaches on co-ed teams have made efforts towards inclusivity, she explained “yeah I think they have, it might have been a little bit too much at times though, just because… there’s certain terms like the word ‘guys’ that are not allowed, and I appreciate the efforts to try and to take away those stereotypes… I think the coaches are trying, so that’s great.” She described the need for balance between the need for inclusivity while also ensuring that certain people don’t feel singled out.

Craemer says that as far as feeling empowered as an athlete goes, she prefers “[co-ed], because I think the community is stronger.” Co-ed teams at Garfield have been able to cultivate special communities and have brought together students with different backgrounds and lived experiences. Sports have long been a uniting factor for people across the world. With advancements in inclusivity such as co-ed sports, those who have historically been sidelined may now be included in these spaces, making the sports world more diverse and complex.