Allison Rogers, 13, of Ethical Culture Fieldstone School in New York, has been denied a second season on her middle school football team because she refuses to retake a series of fitness tests required by New York state for participation in mixed-gender sports — required for girls, that is.
In an interview to McClatchyDC, Rogers said, “The school and the coaches know who I am. They knew who I was in seventh grade, they know that I’m athletic. It just seems unfair that I should ever have to take any of these tests, that any girl should have to take any of these tests.”
The President’s Council Fitness Test requires the student athlete in question to submit to review by a panel made up of the school nurse and a physical education teacher, with the possible addition of a third-party physician who will examine the athlete’s medical records. The fitness portion requires the athlete to run a mile and complete a predetermined number of push-ups and pull-ups. The athlete must score in the 50th percentile in order to be deemed fit for competition.
Rogers submitted to the testing in her seventh-grade year, but when she returned to tryouts for the 2016 season she was told she would have to repeat the entire process. According to Gus Ornstein, athletic director at Fieldstone, who made inquiries to the state, the test scores apply only to one season and one sport.
From what Rogers’ parents have been able to find online regarding the regulations laid down by the Commissioner of Education, there is no stipulation that the test has to be repeated. They are trying to get a full copy, but the state has not been forthcoming in providing access.
“I think they have a procedure that’s not clear and they have no interest in being challenged, so they’re making it very difficult for us to challenge it,” said Rogers’ mother.
At this point, the family is not sure whether the school is being overprotective or just adhering carefully to guidelines in order not to take on any liability. AD Ornstein told McClatchyDC, “Alison shows as much promise as any other middle school football player. We would love to have her on the team again this year. We understand her desire to challenge this rule and fully support her efforts.”