Girls' sports programs to get better treatment


Move over boys, it's prime time for girls now.

Twelve Anne Arundel County high school principals struck an agreement this week to let girls' sports teams play more often, at better times, and on better-kept fields.

For a change, girls' sports teams will be offered a chance to play at 7 p.m. -- prime time for school athletic programs because it's the time parents are most likely able to attend to cheer their children. Girls' games traditionally are scheduled at 5 p.m. New schedules are to be submitted next week.

"We went with a compromise that will allow the schools to determine how many boys' and girls' events they'd like to switch," said Rick Wiles, coordinator of physical education and athletics for county schools. "The principals will have the prerogative to schedule events with gender equity."

But Mr. Wiles pointed out that Northeast and South River high schools each have had an even number of girls' and boys' games in prime time. The disparity was greater at other schools, according to a survey by the Board of Education's Gender Equity Committee. Traditionally, the 7 p.m. start time and better fields were given to the boys' teams, the committee found.

Mr. Wiles said principals now are being asked to flip-flop some games. "But in some communities, the parents and students didn't want the females in late time slots because of the concern about female students arriving home later in the evening," Mr. Wiles said. "This leaves them with flexibility."

Earlier this year, the committee also said more women must be encouraged to participate in sports programs to help erase the 3-to-1 ratio of male to female coaches. The committee found that all athletic directors at the county's 12 high schools are male, and of 12 assistant athletic directors, only two are female. Only 103 of the 483 coaches serving the 12 high schools, about 21 percent, are women.

The committee also recommended that schools recruit newly hired female teachers to become coaches; seek grant money for training women interested in an athletic director position; create a common budgeting system; and encourage school newspapers to give equal coverage to girls' sports.

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