Alabama city pushes back on claim that girls basketball team wasn’t awarded trophy because of gender
a city in Alabama defends herself from criticism after a youth basketball tournament where the parents of a fifth-grade girls’ team claimed they didn’t get first prize after beating a boys’ recreational team in the title game because they were girls.
Jayme Mashayekh, whose daughter plays in one competitive girls competition on behalf of Spain Park, wrote in a Facebook post last week that the team was told by all Hoover City School students in the middle of the season that they could no longer use the Hoover facilities for practice unless they paid to enter the district’s recreational league.
“They were told to stick together as a team, they had to level up in the league and play against the 5th grade boys,” Mashayekh said in the post.
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She continued that before the championship, the team was told that they could compete, but that if they won they would not be awarded the trophy.
“‘Excuse me what?’ What did they do to get disqualified? Didn’t they pay their dues? Didn’t they level up in the league? Oh, it’s because they’re GIRLS?!?!” Mashayekh wrote.
Sure enough, these 5th grade girls played their hearts out, left it all on the floor and fought their male counterparts only to be told, ‘No, I’m sorry you don’t count.
Mashayekh called the situation a “hard lesson”, one she did not believe “we should teach our boys or girls in this day and age”.
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But the city released a statement Monday clarifying that the decision had nothing to do with the gender of the team, but rather Hoover Parks and Recreation Department (HPRD) rules.
“For many years, HPRD has allowed ‘elite’ teams in Hoover to participate in tournaments it hosts. Those ‘elite’ teams are not wanted by HPRD, but they come to HPRD and ask to participate. Members of “elite” teams are hand-selected. They do not undergo the same talent evaluation as those participating in regular recreation teams. Therefore, “elite” teams willingly agree to compete against recreation teams in another division within their level or against teams above their level to ensure fair competition for all youth athletes.”
The statement continued: “If an ‘elite’ team participates in an HPRD youth tournament and makes it to the championship round, they are not eligible for prizes/trophies. Only regular recreation teams are eligible for prizes/trophies.”
The statement also noted that these teams have been “advised and agree” to rules that do not allow them to collect trophies or awards if they progress to a championship game.
“It is important to note that the same provisions have always applied to girls’ and boys’ ‘elite’ teams. HPRD has never treated a team differently based on gender or any other factor, other than the ‘elite’ status of some teams.”
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The city also said that in the same tournament, an “elite team” for boys won a championship and was not awarded a trophy.
“They were ineligible due to their ‘elite’ status. This winning team included the son of a City of Hoover elected official, indicating that the same rules are applied to all teams regardless of gender.”
The city said it plans to review its current policy “to ensure that competition and recognition procedures are fair to all entrants” and also invited both winning teams to attend Hoover City Council on Monday night “so they can can be recognized for their recent victories.”