A male field hockey player from a Massachusetts high school took a shot during a Thursday game that slammed into a female opponent’s face, and the female player suffered significant injuries as a result and was hospitalized.
As you might guess, Riley Gaines and other advocates for keeping males out of female sports are furious.
What are the details?
The injured female player is from Dighton-Rehoboth Regional High School. The male player who took the shot is from Swampscott High School. The teams were in the third quarter of an MIAA Division 3 state tournament game with Swampscott ahead 1-0.
Video shows the male Swampscott player firing a shot toward the goal, but the ball instead hit a Dighton-Rehoboth player hard in her face. The ball ricocheted far from the point of impact, and the injured player fell to her knees and cried out — as did her teammates. A number of them turned their faces away after coming to her aid, and play was halted while the injured female player was treated.
As it happens, the male Swampscott player scored a goal soon after play resumed. In fact, he scored both goals for Swampscott, giving his team a 2-0 victory and eliminating Dighton-Rehoboth from the tournament.
It won’t come as a shock that the male Swampscott player is reportedly a Northeastern Conference All-Star. He’s also a four-year varsity player and team co-captain, WCVB-TV reported, citing Swampscott Public Schools Athletic Director Kelly Wolff.
What happened to the injured female player?
Dighton-Rehoboth’s Superintendent Bill Runey said the injured female player was released from the hospital Friday but suffered “significant facial and dental injuries,” the Sun Chronicle reported.
While Massachusetts scholastic rules allow males to play sports with females if there’s no male team for that sport available — and vice versa — Runey penned a letter to his school district community that seemed to call the rule into question. Here’s what he had to say, in part, according to WCVB:
While I understand that the MIAA has guidelines in place for co-ed participation under section 43 of their handbook, this incident dramatically magnifies the concerns of many about player safety.
In speaking with a representative of the MIAA this morning, she shared that the MIAA handbook has a legal note explaining how the Massachusetts Equal Rights Amendment makes the participation of males on female teams legal. I understand that the Mass ERA legislation is voluminous; and therefore, is very difficult to modify in total. However, seeing the horror in the eyes of our players and coaches upon greeting their bus last night is evidence to me that there has to be a renewed approach by the MIAA to protect the safety of our athletes. In years past, there were provisions in girls’ volleyball that, although boys could participate, they could not play on the front line because their ability to spike the ball created a higher level of risk. I have been told that those restrictions were deemed illegal and no longer exist. Athletics has come so far in the realm of safety, but the equipment and the training that our athletes are receiving in today’s day and age requires us to be more thoughtful about all of our rules and policies regarding safety.
Wolff emphasized that the male Swampscott player “has the exact same right to participate as any player on any team,” the station said.
WCVB added a statement from the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association that noted in part: “Massachusetts General Law was originally enacted to protect students from discrimination based on sex, and later expanded to protect students based on gender identification. As a result of this law, and consistent with the interpretive guidance offered by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, athletic opportunities must be afforded to students in accordance with their identified gender, not necessarily their birth-assigned gender.”
Riley Gaines isn’t happy
Gaines — a staunch advocate for keeping males out of female sports — hit social media with a fury after finding out about the injured female player:
Others were equally incensed: