The only game they’ve lost all season is the one where the girls sat out
A Mesa, Arizona boys high school soccer team is making headlines for their refusal to play against another squad that fielded a co-ed team consisting of mostly boys and two girl players. Faith Christian Christian School refused to take the field and accepted a forfeit after asking the opposing team, Foothills Academy College Prep, to sit their girl players and field a team of all boys.
Foothills Academy had, earlier in the season, accommodated a similar request and sat their two female players, but this time around, the boys on the team agreed that they weren’t taking the field without their team in its entirety. The previous decision not to play the girls, sisters Alyssa and Colette Hocking, was made by their mother.
Upon forfeiting, Faith Christian cited religious beliefs in their decision to cancel the game. Dick Buckingham, an administrator for Faith Christian, issued a statement on the matter, presumably aware that his school’s decision would draw both attention and criticism.
He said via public statement:
I know it appears to fly in the face of what everyone is wanting to promote today, and that is equality. It is based on a religious perspective that God created guys and girls differently. The difference physically, there is a strength advantage that men have over women. We want to teach our men that honor of ladies is just not in sports. We struggle how to teach that if we're allowing them to play against young ladies in a competitive game.
We're the ones harmed because we're giving up a game. We think it's better to do that than give a mixed message.
The coach of the co-ed team, Steve Rains, stood by his players’ decision, saying, “They would not play without their team. They felt the girls earned the right to be on the team. And they won't play without them."
However, he respected the right of Faith Christian to adhere to their religious beliefs but didn’t necessarily agree with them, stating, "That's their beliefs. I have my own beliefs. I am not one to judge that. But, personally, I think we're all humans. Even though it's a boys league, it doesn't say girls can't play. Girls can play, in my opinion."
The girls on Foothills Academy’s team joined because there was no girls soccer team at the school, and the conference rules permit girls to play on the boys team. Foothills Academy’s only loss of the season came during the one game that the girls were sidelined.