SPORTS FOR WHITE GIRLS

I spent a long time thinking that black kids just didn’t play field hockey.

A long time giving myself a pat on the back for looking outside of what black girls typically enjoy- basketball primarily- and giving this new, under appreciated sport a chance. A long time buying into the unspoken delusion that kids of color just didn’t want to play. One can imagine how distraught I was when that long time came to a much needed close and I recognized the verity of the situation; that it had nothing to do with desire but instead with ability.

Field hockey is absurdly expensive and it’s been kept that way for a reason. Just like lacrosse. Just like squash. Just like any sport wherein if a black kid is playing, they are more likely than not alone in that feat. I cannot speak for everywhere, but I can speak for Princeton, New Jersey- and here, there is no effort being made to diversify these teams nor has there been any interest in appealing to the kids who have otherwise been ignored by these sports programs.

No strides have been taken nor any initaives presented to solve the problem- and yes this is a problem- of homogeneity within the athletics of Princeton Public Schools. There is no good reason that I was the only black girl not only on my varsity field hockey team, but in the entire program, almost every year I played, nor any reason that I very well may be the last black kid they have on that team for a while.

I’m pretty sure the girls lacrosse team hasn’t seen a black person in 2 years despite the fact that the last woman of color on the team went on to be one of the top D1 goalies in the nation. It obviously isn’t a lack of capability, but instead this lethargic, comfortable culture surrounding these sports that is riddled with socioeconomic and racial homogeneity.

They don’t need to explicitly say, “Hey, poor people- how about you don’t try out this year?” Or “Tynesha- why don’t you go out for b-ball instead?”

The message is made loud and clear by the booster club aggressively “suggesting” that each family make a $100 contribution at the end of the season, by the not-so-optional and undisputibly inevitable apparel purchase post-preseason. $80 for a Patagonia, $20 for shorts, ALL VARSITY PLAYERS MUST HAVE $25 warm up shirt WITH NUMBER (extra $5).

Better hope it doesn’t get cold out too soon little fhockey girls, MUST HAVE BLACK AND WHITE UNDER ARMOUR. Wanna go on a run? MUST HAVE TURF SHOES AND RUNNING SNEAKERS. Wanna be a good teammate? MANDATORY: $25 for ribbon and lockeroom decor. MUST BRING IN PSYCH BAG: $10 Want us to like you? MUST ATTEND TEAM LUNCH IN TOWN: $10 Wanna play? STICK: $300, MOUTH GUARD: $20, BANGERZ GOGGLES: $40, SPORTS BRAS: $15 a piece, SPANDEX: $20.

No one needs to tell us not to play. We get it, don’t worry.

Unless I’m wrong and I’ve simply missed the grassroots approach being taken to bring in more kids of color to these public school programs riddled with exclusivity. Unless I’m just not privy to how important it is to the leadership to cultivate a culture of diversity. Unless I’ve missed it all.

But, it’s hard to miss when you’re living this bougie lifestyle and watching everyone else regard you with contempt. There’s a reason people think that athletes at PHS are all spoiled little brats. You have to be spoiled to some extent to even get on the team.

From summer training to club teams, the bill for playing sports continues to increase with every season. 

It’s not fair, it’s not right and it’s about time we stop pretending that only white girls like field hockey.

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