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Girls' Teams Seek Equality in Scheduling

May 28, 1987|STEPHANIE O'NEILL | Times Staff Writer

Bsketball coaches of girls' teams in Glendale high schools are pressing off-court to erase what they call sexual discrimination in the scheduling of games.

The coaches want the girls' varsity teams to play on the same night as the boys' varsity teams. The girls' teams now play in the afternoon, whereas the boys' varsity teams share the evening schedule with the boys' junior varsity.

The girls' coaches contend that the switch to a girls' and boys' varsity double-header would give their program much-needed exposure and lend players support from parents, cheerleaders and classmates who regularly attend the boys' varsity games.

"Right now, they are featuring the sophomore boys and saying they are more important than the senior girls," said Bob Henry, girls' basketball coach at Glendale's Hoover High School, who has spearheaded the drive for change. "I have a couple of girls who are scholarship material and they should be featured."

But athletic directors and school principals, who control league policy, reject the idea. They contend that such a change would be difficult and expensive to implement, could lower ticket sales and would damage the boys' basketball program.

"Our boys' junior varsity and varsity teams practice together as a unit, and it is therefore very important that the coaches be at each game to observe what is going on. To expect them to split up the games when they practice together is unreasonable," said Sam Harvey, principal of Glendale High School.

Girls' coaches, however, argue that a schedule shift would not harm the boys' program and called the principals' opposition veiled sexual bias.

"What they're saying, in effect, is the girls are not equal to the boys and do not have the same rights," said Carolyn Anderson-Meadows, girls' basketball coach at Glendale High School.

Henry and Anderson-Meadows are backed by coaches at the four other Pacific League schools--Arcadia High School, Crescenta Valley High School in La Crescenta, Pasadena and John Muir high schools in Pasadena.

Archie Newton, basketball coach at John Muir, said he strongly supports a change. In 1985, Newton's girls' varsity team was ranked No. 1 in the nation, yet few people were able to attend the afternoon games, he said. John Muir and Pasadena high schools restrict weeknight basketball play to Friday.

"It would benefit the girls' program if we were able to play the preliminary evening game . . . . It would give the parents and the community at large an opportunity to see them play," Newton said.

School principals at Arcadia High and Crescenta Valley High allow the boys' teams to play two nights a week and said the girls at those schools can play evening games, if they wish, on nights when boys' games are not scheduled.

"The only sexual discrimination is in Bob Henry's mind," said Hoover High Principal Don Duncan.

Last month, a frustrated Henry and several of his players took their request to the Glendale Board of Education. That prompted school Supt. Robert Sanchis to request that the principals submit to the board reasons why they oppose the scheduling change.

According to Duncan, the shift would also mean opening both boys' and girls' locker rooms at the host school. Now, he said, the host school need open only one locker room at a time and provide only one paid supervisor--for the boys in the evening or the girls in the afternoon.

Jan McCurry, athletic director for girls' sports at Crescenta Valley High School, said the issue is not one of sexual discrimination, since "girls have every opportunity to compete."

McCurry, who has worked in the district since the early 1970s, said the current schedule has been in effect for 15 years, since the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) decided to sponsor girls' athletics. Originally, girls' basketball coaches, most of whom were women, requested that girls' teams play for a crowd separate from those who attended boys' games, she said.

"They did that for two reasons. The first was that they figured girls' sports would eventually draw and attract a crowd. . . . The second was that they believed putting the boys and girls back to back would be an unfair comparison between the teams because of the physical difference in their strength. So the girls wanted their own show," McCurry said.

"And, at this time," she continued, "People would rather watch the boys play than watch the girls play. That's societal discrimination."

Opponents also note the difference in boys' and girls' playing rules. One referee can now replace an absent colleague and officiate both boys' games if necessary, Duncan said. But scheduling a boys' and girls' double-header could pose a problem in getting referees familiar with the difference in rules, he said.

Another fear is that varsity girls' games may attract fewer ticket buyers than the junior varsity boys--something the financially strapped schools cannot afford, said Sam Nicholson, principal at Crescenta Valley.

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