A new wave of opportunity has just arisen. In just the past few years, the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) has sanctioned sports including Girls Beach Volleyball, Girls Flag Football, Cheer and even Electronic Sports (Esports) to increase participation in high school athletics by expanding the range of competitive sports available.
As interest begins to ramp up in women’s sports across the nation, CIF has done their due diligence by ensuring that they are keeping up with the increasing demand. However, with the introduction of these new sports in high school competitive play, bridging the gender participation gap is not the only benefit that they are bringing to the table: like killing two birds with one stone, their contributions to the scene also have a direct impact on those who previously harbored no interest in the selection of sports and were hence deterred from being in a sports team.
What does this mean for Wilson’s future, and when can we expect our school to adopt new teams in these respective areas to even out the playing field with schools in other districts?
The answer is unclear, but one thing is for sure: regardless of the obstacles in the way, it is pivotal for these teams to be established in order for Wilson and other Hacienda La Puente Unified School District (HLPUSD) schools to ensure that each and every student has access to the most opportunities possible. Just like Wilson’s award-winning stunt team that has dominated the Hacienda League, the path needs to be paved for students interested in these new sports pathways to do the same.
Especially with the addition of Esports, gamers, a group of individuals who is perceived to be less active in extracurriculars compared to the general population due to their “absorption” in the online environment, can now see themselves contributing to school sports culture: now, they can follow in their favorite Twitch streamer’s footsteps by furthering their interests in school teams that share the same level of legitimacy as those of other sports.
In Los Angeles and Orange County, schools seem to be filling up their Varsity and Junior Varsity rosters with scores of students that are interested in the new CIF sports additions and impassioned to make history. In San Gabriel Valley (SGV) schools, however, few seem to be doing the same.
For a high school with a Girls Flag Football team in the SGV like Sierra Vista, the road to cementing the sport’s place at the school has not been easy. Due to the lack of nearby teams, it has been a struggle for them to organize matches without having to travel extensive distances. This makes it even more imperative for schools in the SGV to establish teams in these newly-sanctioned sports, as failing to do so may jeopardize their future in the CIF league.
However, the San Gabriel Valley is not the only area facing these challenges in the season. The whole state of California only has 114 Girls Flag Football teams, which is not enough for there to be CIF playoffs in the sport this year. Next year, if there is more participation in the sport, players can then expect to see their introduction to the season.
With Flag Football, Beach Volleyball and Cheer already closely related to existing sports played at the high school level, there is no reason why there should be any difficulty establishing teams in those areas. The only caveat would be receiving approval from the district to secure funding for coaches and seek out acceptance into existing leagues in the area, all of which is possible as long as there is enough interest from individuals that are willing to advocate for the formation of these teams.
If money is the issue, then fundraising is also an option— regardless of what obstacles are thrown in the way, there is no excuse to not take advantage of new opportunities as they arise, especially when they would instill positive change on the community and provide the stepping stone for individuals to discover and pursue new interests.
All in all, the unprecedented influx in sports that have been added to CIF competitive play is a chance for schools like ours to take advantage of the opening to improve student life and campus culture. Although the journey to doing so may be filled with bumps along the road, there is no universe in which the school’s priority does not lay within the betterment of opportunities for our students.