You'd think earning a spot as the first and only girl on your high school's football team would be the hard part. But Mina Johnson just can't catch a break. She sat out the Southampton Academy game last week because the boys from Northeast Academy refused to play against a girl.
That's right. The boys at Northeast are a bunch of backward-acting jerks who are afraid to face off against a girl. But can we talk for a minute about the actions of the Southampton Academy team? They weren't acting like one when they let Mina sit the bench and trotted out on the gridiron, that's for sure.
As the mother of a little girl, the way Mina was treated by her own teammates makes me cringe. It shows our girls can be just as good as the boys, and the boys can still dismiss them ... and get support from their school for doing it.
The story goes that Northeast threatened to forfeit if they had to play against Mina. So Mina said she'd sit out. The coach said she "deserved" to play and cited her work ethic and her success in past games, including sacking an opposing quarterback four times. But that's it. The Southampton boys played anyway, albeit with pink socks as a nod to Breast Cancer Awareness and her (which sounds like an afterthought if there ever was one). No one said, "You know what, screw this! If they want to forfeit, they can forfeit!"
It's 2011, but girls on the football team are still rare enough that they make news. So it's not unexpected that somebody, somewhere, will complain. Northeast's hissy is more or less par for the course, as is a threat from a Christian school that's also on Southampton's schedule.
But when we send our kids to a school, we hope that school at the very least will have their best interests at heart. Especially a private school like Southampton, where parents like Mina's mom and doctor dad are paying more than $7,000 a year for people to nurture their child.
They failed Mina Johnson, but they also failed all the boys on that team. This could have been a great lesson in sticking together, teamwork, camaraderie, standing up for what you believe in ... the things that build good citizenship, the things that make athletics such a vital part of a school community. A bunch of misogynistic teenagers were just given the chance to tell a girl that she wasn't worth their time. And the girl's entire school said, "OK, yeah, sure, we'll go with that."
As a mom, I'm more upset with Mina Johnson's own teammates for letting her sit out. How about you?
Image via Jayel Aheram/Flickr