Together is better; coed sports for the win

A modern debate that is slowly inching its controversial conversation across society is one that could soon burst through into mainstream discussion. The debate is over whether organized sports should be coed or not. The three main points to this argument are concerns with safety, fairness and performance, and making contact in contact sports.

The first piece to the debate is the most valid and the most concerning: safety. It’s a biological fact that men are typically bigger and more muscular than most women are, and this worries some people. If men and women were to meet on the field, especially in a contact sport, some are afraid that the woman would be more likely to be seriously injured. However, sports already have a constant risk of injury, regardless of who’s playing, so is this really a valid argument? Why should injury concerns prevent only coed sports instead of sports as a whole? If injuries are really going to be a problem, then absolutely all sports should be shut down, right? Wrong. So long as proper safety measures are put in place, as they have to be for any established sport, then the injury concern is not a problem. Plus, athletes are aware of the possibility of injury when they sign up to play, but they still sign up. Obviously, the risk doesn’t concern them, so it can’t be that big of a problem.

The second piece to the debate is fairness and ability to perform. Again, it is a biological fact that male and female bodies are built differently, with males typically being larger and more muscular. Some may say that the game would be unfair since this gives men an advantage. Men would easily defeat any women they face without even trying, and women wouldn’t be able to keep up, but this is simply not true. Women have their own biological strengths, such as typically being more agile and nimble. This difference in biological build could actually make both men and women stronger on the field. For example, with men always facing off against men, they may become accustomed to using sheer strength, and whichever is stronger will end up winning. However, if a man uses this tactic when facing off against an agile and nimble woman, the woman probably won’t use strength to push back, but use her agility, which the man won’t be able to defend against. Therefore, by having to play against both men and women, both men and women will have all of their skills strengthened, instead of just the ones they may use to defeat their own sex. In addition, if men and women were on the same team, the team would become significantly stronger since it will have players with all different types of strengths.

The final major piece to this debate is, honestly, quite petty. It deals with the “awkwardness” involved when players have to make contact with the other sex. Some may argue that if men have to tackle women in contact sports, such as football, they may hold back, or that hitting a woman isn’t gentlemanly. It’s the same for women, since it can be argued that they may not want to challenge their femininity. In sports, though, the goal isn’t to be the best gentleman or the most ladylike. The goal is to win the game, and since all the players playing signed up to actually play, they’re fair game. If contact is a part of the sport, then make contact; no one has cooties.

Based on these three key points, it appears that there aren’t many valid reasons why sports can’t be coed. However, it’s likely that there won’t be a change. While there isn’t anything stopping this change, there isn’t any flaw with the current system that requires this change. With the debate of gender equality intensifying, there’s a chance that this debate over coed sports may rise in priority, but for now, it’s more of an interesting concept to ponder.

The only organized full-contact coed sport worldwide is quidditch. The International Quidditch Association (IQA) has a rule known as Title 9 ¾, which states that “each team must have at least two players in play who identify with a different gender than at least two other players.” United States Quidditch (USQ) also has a rule known as the “four maximum” rule, which states that “a quidditch game requires each team to have a maximum of four players who identify with the same gender, excluding the seeker.” Another major coed sporting event is the tennis mixed doubles round at the US Open. (Photo courtesy of Sergei Bachlakov/Shutterstock).

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