Calls for change after male Swampscott field hockey player sends Dighton-Rehoboth girl to hospital

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The Foxborough Girls Varsity Field Hockey team hosts Swampscott High School Tuesday in the second round of the MIAA Division 3 playoffs, a matchup that could fuel the debate over gender equality and participation in state athletics.

There have been renewed calls for the MIAA to make changes after a female Dighton-Rehoboth player was sent to the hospital last week during a playoff game in Swampscott. The injury came in the 3rd quarter when the boy took a shot in a corner penalty. The girl was hit in the face and could be heard screaming for several moments as her teammates gasped.

“The shrieks and screams of fear and pain that projected from her after being hit filled the stadium,” Dighton-Rehoboth team captain Kelsey Bain wrote in a letter to the MIAA. “The looks of horror and shock on the faces of the girls surrounding her were also chilling.”

Under Title IX and the Equal Rights Amendment, Massachusetts boys can play on a girls’ team if their respective school does not offer a male-equivalent team in that sport. Boys have been competing on girls’ teams, and girls have been competing on boys’ teams, for more than forty years, the MIAA said.

Bain believes the rules need to be reevaluated.

“We all witnessed the substantial damage that a male has the ability to cause against a female during a game. How much longer does the MIAA plan on using girls as statistical data points before they realize that boys do not belong in girls’ sports?” Bain wrote in her open letter.

Dighton-Rehoboth Regional School Superintendent Bill Runey said this is a growing problem among girls’ field hockey teams, where a boy’s only option at most schools is to play with the girls’ team.

“There are very few male field hockey teams. If a male wants to play field hockey, he plays on the girls’ team,” Runey said. “The easiest thing to do would be to change the guidelines in terms of requiring protective headwear that has a full facemask, much like softball.”

The MIAA said it stands by the Equal Rights Amendment.

“We respect and understand the complexity and concerns that exist regarding student safety. However, student safety has not been a successful defense to excluding students of one gender from participating on teams of the opposite gender.”

Foxborough and Swampscott school administrators did not respond to a request for comment.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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