Is This Really Co-Ed Gym Class?

We’ve all seen it happen. In a gym class full of boys and girls, it often seems like the girls are an after thought. When every boy is being blocked in basketball, he will always get passed to before all of the wide-open girls are even considered.

No one trusts girls to do anything right in gym, and on the off chance they do take a leap of faith, their actions are judged as those of every girl. If one girl fails to catch the basketball, it’s ruined for everyone. It will take two more class periods to build up the trust again, for there to be any passing.

I sat down with Ms. Beth Taubman, my P.E. teacher, to discuss the topic of co-ed participation in gym classes.

Bella Hovis (’18), a Lenape soccer player

Why do you think that they avoid throwing to girls? Is it because they want to throw to their friends or because they feel superior?

“It’s a combination, I think. When you’re friends with athletes, you know how the ball will be caught and how it will progress the game. There’s still a general assumption that the boys will pass to other boys or athletes because they feel that they are reliable.”

Do you think passing rules where boys and girls must alternate passing help with the problem?

“I do, only because it forces boys to actually pass to the girls. Even though I hate that girls need the support from these rules, as a woman, it’s necessary to get the participation. In a perfect world, we wouldn’t need to force it, but this isn’t a perfect world.  Sometimes, of course, it’s not necessary, but it often is.”

But even taking everyone into consideration, most still feel it is best to pass the ball to someone who is actually invested in the game — and some argue that most girls simply are not invested.

An anonymous, male source gave his point of view on the subject. He said “Most girls aren’t as competitive as the guys are and either are not good at the sport or just don’t care enough to give even 5% effort.”

As blunt as this point of view is, I do agree with it on some level. It is true that many girls stand around in gym, without a care for the game. But, dissimilar to his point of view, I don’t think it’s because they’re being lazy or because they’re not talented: it’s because girls have learned over the years that they will never get the chance to actually participate, so why even get their hopes up?

So, co-ed gym is not really co-ed all of the time. But it could change if everyone was given more of a chance to prove themselves.