A high school boys soccer team in Arizona forfeited its game last week against a team that includes two girls.
Faith Christian School in Mesa, Ariz., forfeited its game on Friday against Scottsdale’s Foothills Academy College Prep, a boys soccer team that includes sisters Alyssa and Colette Hocking, the Arizona Republic reported. Faith Christian cited religious beliefs in its decision.
“I know it appears to fly in the face of what everyone is wanting to promote today, and that is equality,” Dick Buckingham, administrative leader of Faith Christian, told the newspaper. “It is based on a religious perspective that God created guys and girls differently. The difference physically, there is a strength advantage that men have over women. We want to teach our men that honor of ladies is just not in sports. We struggle how to teach that if we’re allowing them to play against young ladies in a competitive game.”
Buckingham then added: “We’re the ones harmed because we’re giving up a game. We think it’s better to do that than give a mixed message.”
Last Monday, Foothills was faced with a similar situation when Our Lady of Sorrows said it would not play Foothills because it had two girls on the team. Foothills, which traveled an hour to the game, chose to play without the sisters.
For the Faith Christian game, Foothills players voted it would not play unless the Hockings were allowed to play, the Republic reported.
“They felt the girls earned the right to be on the team,” Foothills coach Steven Rains said. “And they won’t play without them.”
The Canyon Athletic Association (CAA) registered the game as a 2-0 win for Foothills over Faith Christian on its website.
Foothills does not have a girls soccer team. Randy Baum, executive director of the CAA, told the newspaper that because the schools in the association are so small, it allows for girls to play on the boys teams if that school does not have a girls team.
Faith Christian, in its second year in the league, played against a CAA member school earlier this season that had a girl on the team. Buckingham told the newspaper he was only aware of that after the fact.
On Saturday, Faith Christian posted a message on its Facebook page saying the newspaper’s report “was inaccurate in a number of ways.”
“We did not show up at the field and demand the team not play their girls,” the school wrote. “We contacted the school during the week and respectfully asked if they would consider this. When they decided not to, we accepted that and informed them and the league that we would forfeit the game. This was completed more than 24 hours before the game was to be played, including the outcome being registered on the CAA website.”
Faith Christian added its position “was not clearly communicated as it was transmitted verbally.”
“Faith Christian School is committed to developing young people to be strong, morally sound adults in our community,” the school wrote on its Facebook page. “One of the priorities we have for our young men is that we desire for them to have proper understanding of, honor, and respect for women. In the matter of the playing (of) competitive varsity-level contact sports, we believe it to be an inconsistent message to allow them to compete athletically against teams that include women. This has nothing to do with the ability or strength of female players, or winning and losing. It is about building character in our young men. We have chosen to not compete in games against schools that include girls on their boys’ varsity teams. We respect the decision of schools that choose to include women on their teams and only ask for the same in return.”
In a message posted on the Foothills Academy College Prep Facebook page, Dr. Donald Senneville, director and high school principal, said he was proud of his school’s players regarding their decision and praised the Republic’s article while posting an article on the forfeiture from USA Today.
“We all know that boys and girls are different -- but they can both play soccer!” Senneville said in the post. “I was impressed by AZ Central’s reporter’s capturing this poignant example of discrimination against women. I recognize that Faith Christian has a dilemma to solve on this issue, but today my respect goes to our team. Stay strong Blackhawks!”