Should boys and girls be able to compete in the same sports?

THERE has always been the debate in schools as to whether boys and girls should be able to compete against each other in sports.

Tuesday, 14th January 2020, 10:49 am
Updated Friday, 24th January 2020, 2:20 pm
Should girls and boys be allowed to play together in competitive sports?

For example, in 2014 the FA voted to raise the age at which boys and girls could play competitively against each other from under-15s to under-16s.

Speaking after the decision, Kelly Simmons, the then FA director of National Game and Women’s Football, said: ‘This is really great news and we are delighted that The FA shareholders fully supported the rule change to enable boys and girls to play in the same teams if they wish to do so up to the under-16 age limit.’

However, some people say that men and women shouldn’t be able to compete against each other. As boys and girls go through puberty there are inevitable physiological differences which prevent competition from being fair.

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South African female athlete, Caster Semenya, was banned from running unless she took medication to reduce her levels of testosterone – despite the hormone occurring naturally. Speaking at Semenya’s appeal, The Court of Arbitration for Sport said they had rejected her appeal saying the decision was ‘necessary, reasonable and proportionate to make sure competition was fair for females’.

Such cases inevitably lead to questions as to what age boys and girls should be able to continue to compete against each other. While it may become an issue in contact sports such as boxing, football and rugby is there any reason why boys and girls can’t test themselves against each other in individual sports such as gymnastics, cycling and track athletics?

My PE teacher at Crofton School commented: ‘I think that in all possibility in some sports they should compete on the same level; for example, if males were able to compete at the same level of gymnastics as females, they should be able to compete together. I also think that in some sports, competing separately is a good idea because it is a great way for them to show off their own abilities on a level playing field’.

Linked to competition of men and women competing against each other there is also the issues gender equality in pay.

By Rory Murdoch