I must have missed the ‘boys only’ sign outside | TheUnion.com

I must have missed the ‘boys only’ sign outside

Rarely do I run around town burning bras and ranting and raving about equal rights for men and women, but buckle your seat belts because this is one time I feel it’s necessary.

Early last week I wandered into a local sandwich shop for dinner, taking a few minutes to clear my mind of all things high school sports related. Unbeknownst to me I would not only be confronted with a high school sports issue, but one that would anger me enough to grab my laptop and go to work on this column.

A man and his son, who was wearing Nevada Union basketball shorts, walked into the door while I waiting my turn in line. I tried not to eavesdrop, but come on, it was a small store and I am a reporter, after all.

The man was ranting about “why the heck did (his son’s) team have to practice in the girl’s gym anyway.” I immediately perked my ears, knowing it had to do with Nevada Union’s Ali and West gymnasiums.

He went on to tell his son that it wasn’t fair the girls were practicing in the “boy’s gym” and how it was even affecting his son’s season.

He went on to argue that his son’s team lost some games by large margins and those couldn’t be helped, but during the close losses, if his team had been able to practice in Ali Gym then they would have had a better chance at winning. They would have become more used to their surroundings and it just wasn’t right for the girls to take up time in the “boys gym.”

Um hello, this is 1970 calling, I want my sexist attitude back.

Where to begin with such thinking?

Some of you are surely already yelling that I don’t understand about the history surrounding the local high school’s two gyms. However, I am well aware of the fact that when Craig Strohm was coaching the Nevada Union girls basketball team, the West gym was referred to as the “House of Pain” and the girls practiced and played their games in that very gym.

It was Strohm’s choice for the girls to play in that gym, but he was not forced to play there because he coached a girls team – it is an important distinction.

While I recognize that was the old arrangement, I also know that there’s a new cowboy in town and his name is Duwaine Ganskie. From the beginning, Ganskie wanted to have his girls play in Ali, for numerous reasons.

Despite being afraid to rock the boat so early in his time at NU, he explored the idea of moving the girls into Ali Gym with NU’s boys basketball coach Jeff Dellis, who immediately encouraged Ganskie to make the change.

Ganskie had five main reasons for the move – reasons he highlighted in a Coaches Corner he had previously written, which he e-mailed to me after we discussed this issue.

The first being the big pond theory. “A goldfish will grow to the size of the bowl you put it in … this is analogous to our situation. We want to grow to the size of our environment. We want to play in Ali and work to build a fan base to fill the gym and work to grow as a team worthy to have the fans’ allegiance.”

Along with that reason, Ganskie wants to continue the great tradition of Miner basketball, but at the same time create new beginnings.

Playoffs was another argument, with Ganskie explaining that his team had to be prepared to play in larger gyms come playoff time.

The fourth reason was it’s tougher for teams to press in Ali Gym – due to the larger playing floor – and for the time being his team will not be a pressing team and did not want to make it easier for opposing teams to press the Miners.

Drum roll please … Ganskie’s fifth and final reason:

There is no such thing as a “girls gym.”

Amen to that.

“There are just gyms to play basketball,” Ganskie wrote. “Girls and boys teams have the right to the best facilities available. I think Ali is a better place for fans to watch a game and a better place for players to play. That is good enough reason right there.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself. When I was in high school, what mattered was the level of the team, not the sex of the team. If the boys JV or freshmen team dared to question the right of my varsity girls team to practice in the big gym, I guarantee my coach would would have ended that discussion pretty quickly.

Both the girls and the boys are able to play their games in Ali and practice time is the only time in which gym space becomes an issue. Because the girls and boys play on different days, Mondays and the preseason are the only occasions in which Ali gym is empty.

Coach Ganskie told The Union “The whole ‘girls gym’ is an old school thought, but the good news is that none of the people who matter, like the school officials, think that way.”

And to that I give kudos to Steve Pilcher and his athletic department at Nevada Union and hold them as examples to be followed for the man in that sandwich shop and anyone else agreeing with his theory of a “girls gym.”

Since Title IX, it has become pretty clear that male and female athletes are entitled by law to the same benefits. This law is not going away, so I suggest to get used to it – after all, it’s only been 33 years since it went into effect.

The worst part of this whole situation is the sadness I feel for that Nevada Union basketball player whose brain is infused with his father’s gibberish and sexist ideas. Who knows, maybe his son will eventually realize his father is still living in the days of his own childhood.

But this is a new day and a new age.

Only two gyms at Nevada Union exist, the Ali Gymnasium and the West Gymnasium – and they’re not to be segregated by the sex of the kids taking the court. Period.

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