It’s like something out of an inspirational sports movie: a girls’ recreation basketball team in Hoover, Alabama ended up having to play in the boys’ league — to which they responded by winning the 5th-grade championship game. You’d think that, in this situation, they would be named champions — but instead, as Deadspin reports, the league initially decreed that the boys’ team that finished second overall were the league champions.
Thankfully, the city and recreation center that administered the league appears to have rethought this course of action. According to Jayme Mashayekh, whose daughter plays on the girls’ team, the outcry over the league’s handling of this prompted a change of policy.
“The City of Hoover and the Hoover Rec Center have reached out to make things right for the girls,” Mashayekh wrote in a Facebook post. “Thank you for all your support and hopefully this will be a step in the right direction for more/better access to facilities and opportunities for our female athletes.”
Previously, Mashayekh had provided a description of the situation facing the girls’ team. “Halfway through their season they were told they could not use the Hoover gyms for their practices unless they paid to play in the Hoover rec league,” she wrote. What makes things more confusing here is how the league handled the championship game.
“They were told before the championship that they could play in it but if they won they wouldn’t be allowed to have the trophy,” Mashayekh wrote. The girls nonetheless played and won, which brings us to the current situation. According to one person who commented on Mashayekh’s Facebook post, the issue has to do with how the league handles rec teams and OTM teams, with the lack of girls’ teams in the league compounding factors.
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In a statement made to AL.com, Hoover’s City Administrator Allan Rice explained the steps being taken in light of this controversy. “We are currently working to provide proper recognition to all the teams that were successful in that tournament,” Rice said. “Also, we are reviewing the full extent of what occurred to ensure all future programs are handled appropriately.”
Given the number of disparities between men’s and women’s (or boys and girls) basketball on a collegiate or pro level, it’s good that this rec league is trying to make things equitable.