Girls playing with the Boys, and Boys playing with the Girls

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Women, Sport, and Film - 2002
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Girls playing with the Boys, and Boys playing with the Girls

Zoe Meyer

On the athletic field, in the gym, or on the ice, there have always been standards for the athletes to follow. These standards range from what type of athletic equipment is not only necessary but appropriate, to who can play when, where, and how. This last standard is the one that is being challenged the most; can men play not only on women’s teams, but can they also participate in female dominated sports without being taunted? The same goes for women, can females, without fear, really participate in traditionally male dominated sports? Although the social costs to the individual participating in the non-traditional sport are many, the benefits, if played well and correctly, can be and are quite plentiful as well.

For men, this desire to participate in traditionally female dominated sports is not quite as great as it is for females. This is because, honestly, men have a wealth of opportunities for athletics, whether it be professional or not, for every one chance women have. But, in the case that a male does want to participate in a female dominated sport, he will have a hard time being accepted, not necessarily by his female teammates, but by the society watching the sport. Traditionally, male athletes are supposed to be in rough and tumble sports. They are supposed to be hard bodied, passionate about the game, and willing to play no matter what the circumstances. Most female sports, even the female counterpart of a male sport, is less rough and tumble and less aggressive than male sports. For a man to participate in one of these sports he is likely to get laughed off the field, taunted with jeers of “homo” and suggestions that he is “not man enough” to play with the “real men” in traditionally male dominated sports. This can not only be damaging to the male playing, but it can also be damaging to the women playing. The jeers could become aimed at the women on the field or the ice and they could hint that women are not only incapable to play, but that since they need a man to join their team to help them, they obviously do not belong anywhere but on the sidelines.

This previous example is probably a little extreme, but the ideas behind it are quite real. Imagine a man walking onto the deck of a swimming pool, ready to compete in synchronized swimming. The expected first impression would be, “what the…?” because men are not supposed to be synchronized swimmers. There may not be jeers taunted at him, and he may not get made fun of, but he is not looked upon favorably by those watching the event. If, however, he is looked upon favorably, in whatever female dominated sport he is participating, the benefits could be plenty. Imagine the publicity the team would get, not to mention the only man on the team! The endorsements for athletic equipment, shoes, and many other things could support him for the rest of his life after just one year of playing. Being the only man on a professional or Olympic level team could potentially lead to more opportunities for endorsements and such than being just another member of a men’s team. This may seem well and good, but when a man “makes it big” playing for a women’s team, there is always the question and suggestion that he should then go play with the big boys. With this in mind, it is easy to see that a male’s opportunity for continual benefits from playing on a women’s team are slim. Again, this is something that is not very common for men at the professional level, or even at an amateur level because of the fact that men have more opportunities to play than women.

Women, on the other hand, often want to participate in, not only traditionally male dominated sports because, at least now there are female counterparts for them, but they want to “play with the big boys” as well. For a female to “break into” a male sport is probably one of the most difficult parts of actually being an athlete. The main argument that is used almost regardless of the sport for women participating in traditionally male dominated sports is that the female body is not made to correctly function while participating. Also, the idea that the women will lose their femininity if they play with men is another reason to keep them off the field and out of the ring. For women to be taken seriously in a male dominated sport they have to not only be the best female in the ring, gym, or wherever, they also have to be the best overall athlete.

Traditionally, women are thought of as more fragile, and less aggressive than men. With this in mind, it is clear the reasons why it is so difficult for women to participate in male dominated sports. The costs to a woman playing with a man in the ring or on the field are more numerous than simply getting laughed at and called names. Usually, to really see the extent to which women can take playing with the boys, the men will usually play their hardest, if not harder in an attempt to push the women to their limits and eventually make them quit. Also, since the woman is in a male dominated sport, the chances that there are other females out there helping “the cause” are very small which makes it even harder for her to be taken seriously.

The benefits for a woman in a man’s sport however are probably some of the greatest out there. She will not only most likely be the star and the sweetheart of the team, but she will also most likely get the most attention both in and out of the game. Also, the endorsements for a woman playing with men are unimaginable, especially with all the feminists behind her and supporting her, she will most likely never have to worry about money again. The one problem with all of this though, is that she will probably have to be defending her sexuality constantly from those that think all female athletes are gay. However, if any woman can get through the taunting, and succeed in a male dominated sport, then she truly will have “made it” in the world of athletics.

For men and women to participate in sports not traditionally dominated by their sex is probably a lot more difficult at first than would seem worth it, but in the end it could be a major stepping stone into the world of athletics as well as the rest of society. The costs to both seem, at first, almost insurmountable, but once they have become versed in the ways of the sport, the benefits out rule it all.


Continuing conversation
(to contribute your own observations/thoughts, post a comment below)

08/01/2005, from a Reader on the Web

I am an african american FEMALE, who plays football. I started at the age of 5 when i played on a 6 yr old BOY TEAM. when i first started yea, it was harsh but as i got older boys became scared of me and girls didnt even look at me unless they were my friends because they knew who i was!!!! I was the best player on the team amd recieved a lot of MVP's. people shouldn't discriminate agaist girl(women) because girls "some" girls r as tough as boys. sure i had lil boyfriends and i still did girl thing but dont juge a girl by what they look like, because i could be the prettiest girl but also the "one who knows how to take care of business! till' this day noone messes with me or even THINKS about "tryin'" to pick on me even though i may not look like a football player i AM one! Sincxe i am omly 13 i still have lots to accomplish and i say yeah to ALL the girls who think they can handle the sport!!!!!!!!!!!!1 P.S- on my team after the games boys couldn't even tell i was a girl until' i took my helment off becouse i was that good, i am not afraid to brake a nail and i am not preppy i am "a football playin' female repin' all da guhs!!!!!GET THAT?!?!?!?!?

01/05/2006, from a Reader on the Web

I am 14 years old and so into football... many people see its as strange (mostly females) but many other people (mostly males) think its cool. Its not that i wanna play with the "big boys" as your article states. I just like to play football. I am not trying to prove myself in anyway.. i just wanna play. What i'm trying to say is i disagree with the argument why females play male teams.


Additional comments made prior to 2007
i have been a very athletic girl since i was about 5 and i have always wanted to play football with the boys. yet its hard b.c of the trouble u get with ppl saying names and stuff . i believe girls should have the right considering its against the law to judge ppl of their sex. if they are just as good as the boys or better and can keep up with the competiotion then heck yess they should play with them and show girls are jsut as equal as boys!!! ... Reader on the web, 3 April 2006



there is no way that a girl can play football especially in the Texas 5A district I mean they would get killed. Plus I have played football with a girl and its weird it feels like u have to go easy on them or something.their also very dramatic and they might hurt themselfs ... Brennan Deuel, 15 May 2006



I love Football I have loved it forever! But I can't play on the team. I am in 8th grade and I am 14 I think that I can make up my mind if I want to play!! But the school sead that they don't want me to get hert! Give me a break I love football I can thow better then all the boys in my gym class. The boys think that I am not good enoph but give me a team and a football and I will show you what I can do! Even my dad sead that I am really good at home I have my own football and half the boys at school don't. So why can't I play?!?!?! ... Stephanie Garnett, 18 October 2006



i am 13 years old and i love to play football but my school wont let firls try out for football. i am really disappointed that i cant try out. i have also been told a number of times that i am a great thrower and sometimes a good chatcher. i would love to start playing football ... Falysha Raymond, 19 October 2006



WOW, what a great artical, congrats! all of it is so true...personally i think boys and girls should be able to participate in whichever sport, whenever and with who! it would be fantastic to see one day, during prime time, on a prime television station, a male dominated sport being played by females and gettin gthe same amount of surport as male sports do today ... Brooke, 9 November 2006



i am a 16 yr old girl that plays rugby and wrestles, because im interested in it and enjoy contact sports, Iv only been playin for two years and was introduced to it through my highschool. I wasn't treated differently by my friends and have continuously practised with the boys rugby team and wrestled with guy in practise. Im not particulary gifed in athletics, but just do it for fun and to stay in shape, and society has changed to accept females in contact sports ... Reader on the web, 5 December 2006



hey ya i think its so ture what the girls wrote we should be aloud to play football caus im a female and i love to play football iv been playing since i was 5 im 16 now and i still play. no girls think about messing me with and well u get know know alot of guys and they are cool about me playing with them they love it one year i didnt play cuz i broke a arm and they missed me ... Lee-Anna, 6 February 2007



I agree with the first person because most girls are tough like boys! I want to play football but the coaches are against it! I also love wrestling to but thier is no teams and of course the coaches won't let me try out! Any ways I soooooo agree with u! P.S girls are just as tough as boys! ... Elizabeth, 10 April 2007



Hi i am a female,some people think tht football is a game for boys only but is not,i am an african i love playing football but here in Cameroon most dont play i often play with the boys so i get stronger ,y dad supports me but my mom dont even think of it so i am pleading with any one who reads this which can help in any way to jon my fellow girls play should just mail me please ... Taka gina lor, 21 July 2007



I am 18 years old, and am currently coaching an all boys hockey team. I have been playing hockey from the time i was 5 and couldn't be happier. Yes i was playing on a all boys team for 12 years, but i think that it made me better at the sport becasue, i was challenged. I loved playing the sport and made some amazing friend threw it. I tried playing for a girls team but i missed my "boys". yes they do get pissed when they realize a girl just knocked them on thier butt but on the other hand it gave me more confidence as a girl playing a boy sport! MUCH LOVE! ... Stephanie, 12 November 2007



Im 14 years old and love to wrestle!! when i say i want to wrestle with the school!! they told me no cause i was a girl!! theres a couple of wrestling teams in the town that i live in!! but my parents say the only way i can is if i wrestle with the sschool team!! if there are other schools that r like mine i think its bull that they wont let u!! im already one of the girls that most people look at like o dont mess wit her!! ive wrestled before but now that im older i cant wrestle wit the clubs! but i hope i have a chance wit sumthing!! ... Page Slater, 13 November 2007



I have played soccer fo rthe last 8 years of my life and girls have been on my teams for my whole soccer "career" i dont see the problem with girls on my team i also wrestle and do cross country on my cross country team my best friend is tougher than i am when it comes to a pace and this is my first year wrestling and last year there was a girl on our team that lost only one of her matches and i have lost all of mine so anyone has no right to say that girls arent as tought as the men. i'm only 12 years old and i have many friends that play way harder in many sports that i play i think girls can play any sport they want to ... Austin, 6 December 2007


Anonymous's picture

yah right

i am a girl and i play hockey and im better than most guys and i can beat up anyone in my school so i wouldnt be talking if i were u.

Anonymous's picture


By saying wat u said bout girls being fragile generically, it just shows how sexist u r. I'm goin out for the wrestling team and i'm a girl. A bunch of guys are joining just to beat me up and others just want to see me fail. Some like u think i CAN'T. Just to let u kno it's people like u that fuel girls like me to keep going so thanks.

P.S I'm one of the best on the team :)

Anonymous's picture

your comment

i play football on the boys team at my middle school, it's a boys team but me and two other girls are on it. and i think that anything a guy can do a girl can i dont know what your talkign about. what ever you can think what you want to, but i am better than half the guys on my team. GIRLS CAN DO EVERYTHING GUYS CAN DO...AND POSSIBLE BETTER!!!! ♥♥ilovefootball♥♥

Scuttle's picture


OKAY look people! girls CAN play on boys teams! I know of soo many other girls who play WAY better than the boys! It's a free country, you know!
I also think the boys can play on girl teams too! We are all equal! No gender is better than the other gender. We should treat each other equally. So don't laugh at a girl who plays a "boy" sport, and dont laugh at guys playing a "girl" sport. Did you guys know that football players take ballet? Oh and Brennan Deuel? Girls CAN play football. so next time, don't go easy on a girl.

The very thought of this is ridiculous!'s picture

if we are all so equal then

if we are all so equal then why dont we put the men and women together in the swimming and running races in the olympics and see who will win

Anonymous's picture

Go girls

Hey girls,
I aggree with everything Ya'll have said. I have been playing soccer for 11 years and am kind of getting burned out in a way. I am an allstar athlete ,and wanted to try playing Lacrosse ,however I found out that girls aren't allowed to play a contact version of the sport. Come on what's up with that God says that all men and women were created equally ,so why can't we equally be treated no matter what sports we play. I read this article about this one girl who had been playing Lacrosse for a boys team for two years but all of a sudden she might not be able to play for her high school boys team. In case ya'll didn't know it is ilegally to discriminate a person by their gender.
I am 14 and would love it if girls could play any sport they same way guys do and not treated differently for it.

cassie's picture

hi i am a 14 year old girl

hi i am a 14 year old girl and i think girls and boys should be able to play on each others teams! i dont see what the problem is! some guys think we would get hurt but its are own choice!! and no, you dont have to go easy on us!! most of us are just as strong as you!!!! some are stronger!!!

Anonymous's picture


hi i am 14 years old and i am in 9th grade in high school last year we had a male cheerleader here named Randy he was no doubt the best on the squad he had the best jumps, the sharpest motions, and the most spirit not only was he criticized by other guys but even by the other girls on the team because they were jealous he graduated last year but still comes to our games and watches us and still has the same enthusiasm even though he isnt cheering on the field with us.

Anonymous's picture

Go Girl Go

Hey you sound just like me!!!!!i would Go on and never give up, guys hate to be second best to anybody so ofcourse they hate the idea of you playing as good or for that matter better than them. Keep going they will have to accept. Guess what I played cricket during my school days and i was the wicket keeper!!!!! my friends( boys) said that i used to let go of all the catches behind the wicket because i was too delicate and bothered about my finger nails breaking!!!! well that was just them trying me , i enjoyed every moment of my game and later when i was in college i did reperesent the university, you see i just got Maya do what you are doing and do it well.

CricketGirl's picture

Girls have rights

i'm a 9 year old and i'm in fourth grade. i have a belt in kung-fu and i like playing cricket with the boys in my class. i am the only girl who plays with them. they exclude me and even though i score many runs and bowl the boys out they act like i'm an idiot. they never throw to me. as much as i tell them to shut up and accept that i am a good player, they take the score as a big joke. i think that they are just afraid of playing with a girl. if you are a girl, dont let boys get on your nerves. just play!

Anonymous's picture

does it mater

hi i am 13 years old and i think it does not matter what sport u play like my step brother wont's 2 be a cheerleader and play volleyball like me so go 4 it and play what every sport

gymnast's picture

i have no problem with a

i have no problem with a girl on a guys team but how come guys cant play on girls teams

Anonymous's picture

girls rule!!!

i am in 8th grade and i'm going to try out for my hight school team next year but a lot of people think that i can't play all because i'm a girl. i took the year off so i can get better for next year. my dad i coaching a high school team and he is letting me skact with them. some of the highschoolers are comeing over to work out and right with them i'm happy that i get to play but its hard to not hear the other people saying that i cann't

TKD lover's picture

Girls on guy teams

I do tae kwon do and i am a black belt in it, but i have to spar girl and usually i overpower them... thumbs down to girl fighting guys on the tkd side... im tirred of pulling my kick or no head contact

Margaret's picture


Instead of playing with my high school girls soccer team I wanted a different demanding and "toughening up" enviroment so I went and practiced with the neighboring high school varsitys boys soccer team program. I have never gotten so much development in so little time. Yes, they were out to kill me for months and many of them hate my guts because I beat on them but it has made me so much stronger in soccer. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made

courtney's picture

i think............

i think girls and guys r all around equal. we should be able to do the same things and everyone not judge us girls. exspecailly the parents saying the girls are bringing the guys down. i think we r all equal and that is the way we should play sports 2 gether!!

Rachel's picture

Girlz rock!!

I think that girls should be equal to guys. I'm in 8th grade and am looking 4 a highschool. So far I've found out that some of the highschools that r in my area will let me play foot ball. And I am soooooo excited to try out next year. I hang out with mostly guys and me and my friend want 2 try out 4 football next year, and hopefully we'll make it. Rite now I do Taekwondo and luv to spar, which is full contact. And I'm just as tough (or tougher) than the guys, so that's y I want 2 play football. I used 2 practice with my brother when he played football, but he wuzn't as good as me ;-)
Girlz r strong!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous's picture

girls should be able to play hockey

I am 13 and i play on a boys hockey team last year i was on a travle team and i made capton some of the parent told me that i should go and do something bett than hockey like chess i hatted that i stell play butt its really hard not to lestion to all the people

Anonymous's picture

Why do you guys think that

Why do you guys think that men don't want to play with the women?

sportschick1996's picture

answer 2 tht question^^^^^^^

because guys are always saying tht girlz rnt tough and tht guys dont want 2 hurt us so they go easy on us and crap lik tht i mean, if we wanted guys 2 b easy on us, we wouldnt even play! most girls play and want 2 b treated lik a guy, u no b treatd equally and hav fun cuz if the girl sux then she wouldnt b playin!

Anonymous's picture

Girls should be able to pla

Girls should be able to pla on sports teams and not be jduged.I know a lot of girls who pla on teams and they are way better than he boys *cough katie and rachel*

Dymetre's picture

Girls should be allowed to do what they want!

I think girls should play on any sport team I'm only a 13 year old male and if I were to vote that if a girl can play on a boy's team That would be a YES!!:)

Anonymous's picture

you are so right

you are so right i think girls should be able to play sports any type and it should not matter

Anonymous's picture

Girls are the same as guys

I'm 13 years old, i think that boys and girls are the same. and girls have all the rigths to play football. soem boys at my school might be sfrid to hit a girl during the football game but, the couch said: Is she wareing the uniform, then act like she is another guy and play the game. that really is the good thing to say.

Anonymous's picture


i am a girl who plays on all boy hockey teams and i love it. i think its fair that i can considering i am the captain. i play on 6 different boys teams including high school.

Anonymous's picture


hey cool i play hockey too i have been playing on boys team ever senct i was 5

jessica p's picture


i am righting a paper about how girls should be able to play what ever they want and i would really like to talk you some day

Joannie Eno's picture


I am also a girl and i have played on a guys team since i was 4 and played on a guys team all the way through high school and i am currently in college pursuing to play on our womens varsity team. i could not get a scout to come and watch me play since i was on a boys team so it wasn't easy getting in with the team.i hope your paper goes well i am currently writing a paper on "Females in Male Dominated Sports" good luck.

Rylan Lavoie's picture

I am a 14 year old boy.I

I am a 14 year old boy.I play sports and i mostly get beaten by girls.So if girls have an interest in sports let them play!They are people too

Hailey's picture

Rock on!

Dude, if only all guys could be so open-minded. I am thirteen years old, and I'm just as good as any of the guys on the football team at my high school, and yet the coach won't even let me try out. One way or another, I'll be on that team by the end of the year. Just like if a guy wants to be a cheerleader, so be it. Girls are just as tough as guys. (not to rub that whole sucking at sports thing in.:) )

Anonymous's picture

GOOD FOR YOU! thats the kind

GOOD FOR YOU! thats the kind of guys we need to have in the world! (:

cassie's picture

Girls and boys should be

Girls and boys should be able to play and do what ever they want!! We are all people. and plus its a free country so anyone can do what ever they want!!! just because boys think they are better than us doesnt mean its true!!! i am better at things than most boys!!! and so are all of my friends!!

Anonymous's picture


i agree i could beat most of the boys in my school but the coaches and my dad are against it they say i will get hurt. i play lacrosse, soccer and i cheerlead and i get hurt in all of those sports so football wouldnt be any different.

Jose Angeles's picture

Im a 15 year old boy and i dissagree

i dissagree with having a girl/woman play in a male sport because they can be really hurt if they get into a hard play with a male player

emma y's picture

i dissagree

i am a girl and i am the only girl on my football team yet i score all the goals! out of the 5 years i have been playing we have always won our grand final!

Captain of a champion football/baseball team's picture

are you talking about american football

unless your talking about soccer, its called a touchdown.

Kristal 's picture


i think it is rally cool that you want to play football and i totally agree that you should. i a girl am on the boys football team. i was really scared when i started and i got hurt alot but i really liked it..!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous's picture


i agree i have always wanted to play sports and i grew up around guys getting tackled by my dad is worse then getting tackled by a boy and my dad and school always say ill get hurt but wats worse than that!!!!!!!

Anonymous's picture

I know! seriously!

I know! seriously!

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