Are Boys vs. Girls fair teams on the playground?

I have been joining Walsh at school for lunch and some playground time, and one of the big things I have noticed about second grade is they love to create uneven (dare I say unfair) teams. (I won’t even get into the cheating with playground games – you can only kick a home run if you kick it directly over second base! Huh, what!)

Invariably when they kids play kickball on their own the five biggest boys in the second grade (who all play baseball and have for years!) assign themselves to the same team. The other team is generally Walsh (who has a May birthday and is much smaller than other guys), two guys who play pretty good and then any girls who happen to be hanging around. There are two girls that play really well and then a bunch that just stand there. The team with the five giant boys wins every time!

When it has just been big boys playing little boys I have said to them “You do realize these are unfair teams.” (Deaf ears on the big guys of course. The little guys are like “Yes, we know it!)

But when there have been girls playing I have bit my tongue not to say “You do realize these are unfair teams.”

I don’t want to make the girls feel bad or less than the guys, but the truth is most of them (not all) have less experience playing ball in general, have spent far less time practicing catching and kicking and are just plain smaller than the boys.

Walsh came home yesterday and told me they played soccer on the playground and that is was boys vs. girls and the boys won 19 to 0. I felt terrible for the girls. I know some girls play soccer often and really well but apparently it wasn’t enough to beat a pack of bigger boys.

So I guess my point is I am torn. I want girls to believe they can do anything as well as boys and can achieve any goal they set their minds to. However, the reality is (at least in playground sports) they are often physically smaller and sometimes less experienced. So do you explain that to the boys and the girls?

Which is more crushing to their egos: To get beaten every day in games on the playground or to tell them, “Listen you’re just smaller and less experienced. That’s all. You need to lobby for more even teams.”

I will say this though in Four Square the girls DOMINATE!! And they run that square life the Mafia. Nobody is moving up unless the girls say so. They can be vicious servers depending on who is in Square No. 2.

Does the Four Square even things out? Or should the kids be encouraged to mix up the teams and keep them more even size-wise? (Maybe the PE teacher could talk about picking teams and keeping things even on the playground.)

In an age of post-women’s lib, are Boys vs Girls unfair teams? Can we say that?

– Theresa Walsh Giarrusso, ajc.com Momania. I have increased my Twitter activity. I am sending out great stories for moms each day focusing on health, fitness, sex, entertainment, food, travel and obviously parenting! So follow me on Twitter at @AJCMOMania!)

99 comments Add your comment

malleesmom

May 20th, 2011
6:19 am

With all due respect, this personifies what is wrong with our society. Number one, who ever said life was fair? Number two, parents/adults need to stop manipulating child-play. Children figure it out when we leave them alone. Typically their solutions are better than what adults come up with anyway. This is not a boy vs girl thing. This is not a big child vs little child thing. Not every one wins. Not everyone can be a star. The less skilled kids get motivated to improve or come up with an even better game. The kids who play well already eventually get bored and move on to something else. Leave it alone!!

raised3

May 20th, 2011
6:25 am

Woman has major conrol issues! Wow! Poor kids!

motherjanegoose

May 20th, 2011
6:41 am

Ahhhh…life is not fair in so many ways, even at 51 nothing has changed!

I once had a Mom tell me that when her kids said,
“It’s not fair…” She said, “Right…it is not a fair…I do not always see the Merry Go Round!”

djs_NC

May 20th, 2011
6:43 am

theresa the kids are ok! let them play. all kids have different skills-help your find their strengths instead of bemoaning the fact that they are on a losing team. those are the kids who will be hurt by this-the ones whose parents make such a big deal. kids need to know that everyone is better at something-none are good at all of it (rarely)…its play…let it be play.

djs_NC

May 20th, 2011
6:46 am

MJG-i always told my kids-’fair is a place where you ride rides and eat cotton candy’. lol..now they say it to their kids :)

Margaret

May 20th, 2011
6:47 am

While reading this, one can almost hear the whir of the rotors . . .

djs_NC

May 20th, 2011
6:53 am

and girls and boys ARE different. not to say ones worse or better. but different. nothing is wrong with that. actually-everyone is different reguardless of their gender. its ok!

Jeff

May 20th, 2011
6:53 am

This is exactly what is wrong (IMO) with us today. Why are you only concerned that the girls are getting beaten? Why do you not show equal concern for our boy? There are tons of times when girls receive all the glory and no one seems tom care if the boys are at a disadvantage.

JATL

May 20th, 2011
7:23 am

STAY OUT OF IT! Unless someone is physically beating the crap out of your kid on the playground -leave it all alone! Kids learn so many important life lessons on the playground -it’s the last place we need parental interference. Maybe, just maybe, the kids who are getting beaten all the time will get tired of it and go off to form their own game -but THEY need to make those decisions themselves! It’s also REALLY important for kids to learn to lose and lose often and that there are some things it’s really not that big of a deal to lose. Who cares if the girls are getting beaten? If the girls care enough at some point -they’ll make changes themselves, which is exactly what should happen. Sorry, but why are you at the school and playground anyway? Kids need to experience some time on their own -especially the free social time at lunch and recess!

MomOf2Girls

May 20th, 2011
7:45 am

It seems to me this exemplifies the problems we are having today all over. The losing side resorts to rigging the game, changing the rules, and running to whoever can help them to “win” instead of figuring out how to do what they need to do to improve within the existing context. And I’m not just talking about kids, this goes for the grownups in our society as well (perhaps even more so).

If it bothers the kids to be losing so much, they’ll stop playing. Obviously it is more important to them to be out there playing than to win. This is life, and they’re learning it well, a whole lot better than the generation before them who think they are entitled to be winners just because they exist.

Purple Drank

May 20th, 2011
7:57 am

Enter your comments here

AJC Editor

May 20th, 2011
7:58 am

Due to recent problems with Theresa, this blog will be discontinued after today. We would like to thank the readers and contributors of this blog.

Photius

May 20th, 2011
8:02 am

Me thinks it time for Theresa to get back into the work force….

Stop over protecting your children and let them become independent. Better to teach a 2nd grader that life is unfair than a 25 year old who has been sheltered and protected by his mommy his whole life.

Do your children a favor – LEAVE THEM ALONE.

JJ

May 20th, 2011
8:12 am

I have to agree with everyone. Leave them alone, go park the helicopter, and let them be kids. They grow up so fast, they need to be young, free and innocent while they can.

I love the comment about the fair being a place to ride rides and eat cotton candy. I’ll have to use that one….LOL

I had to take my daughter’s car away from her last night. Broke my heart, it was very tough. I gave her two weeks to find a job or she would lose her car, and three weeks later, nothing. She was convinced she had a job at Taco Mac so she didn’t look for anything else. So I took the keys. I cannot support her and that car all summer long. She MUST get a job and start assuming some financial responsibility for her self. I also cut her off financially. No more money from Mom. I will give her back the car keys once she is gainfully employed and can support her car.

Now go outside and play. LOL

Dennis

May 20th, 2011
8:15 am

The biggest question is…does it matter? It seems that no one is that upset about it, or else they would stop playing. The kids will “vote with their feet” if the situation becomes too unbearable and stop playing. The experienced side will either end up playing a very small game among themselves or a natural balance will come.

There’s a reason why kids aren’t able to solve problems among themselves – they never get a chance to! After coaching a group of 7 year old boys rec soccer team this spring, I realized the parents have had such a firm grip on most of them that the parents were incapable of sitting on the sidelines without giving second by second instructions.

Here’s your next column: are parents ruining kids sports experiences? Take in a number of games where you have no interest and see. Read some of the literature produced by US Soccer on the role of coaches and see.

Mrs. G

May 20th, 2011
8:19 am

Dennis – Agreed! My husband coaches JV baseball at the school where he teaches and the parents are ALL over the kids. I’ve seen it firsthand – my husband will be doing his job (coaching) and the parents will be on sidelines telling the kids what to do (and, oftentimes, it’s different than what my husband is saying). The kids get so confused – you can tell they’re like, “Do I listen to Coach or do I listen to Dad?” Then some of the parents get angry…last week my husband had to tell one to leave after he went over to the bench, demanding to know why his kid had been taken out of the game and actually started yelling at my husband about it.

HB

May 20th, 2011
8:27 am

For goodness sake, leave them alone! I suspect at your old school in ATL you were known as a sweet, well-meaning PITA. Take this opportunity to redefine yourself at a new school as a less obsessive, less seen mom. Give your kids and their teachers some space and spend some time developing your own work and interests. They don’t need you around as much as you want them to.

JJ

May 20th, 2011
8:33 am

We had a softball mom whose daughter was our star pitcher. The mom would sit right behind home plate and YELL and scream at her daughter about her pitching. Then she would start bashing this poor child, telling her how embarrassed she was that her pitching really sucked that night, right in front of EVERYONE. The verbal abuse was horrible. One time, one of the Umps stopped the game, turned around and told her to go sit in the stands and try to keep her mouth shut. That her behavior was very inappropriate…..

We all felt so bad for the girl. She was a sweetheart but her mom was meaner than a snake when it came to her pitching…..

raised3

May 20th, 2011
8:34 am

She was despised in Gwinnett county schools for this same thing. She once used her blog to call out her kids volunteer rec. basketball coach because she didnt approve of the way he ran his practice. Her kids are doomed. And yet, the AJC still thinks she is relevant enough to allow her to type this crap from 2000 miles away!

GetYourOwnLifeTeresa

May 20th, 2011
8:36 am

My son is 4 and will loose his mind if he does not win in everything he does (soccer, baseball, wii games, running, etc). He cries “but I always want to win.” Every time, I tell him, “you can’t always win.” “but why?” “because that is how life is.” And yes- teresa, that is how life is. Kids need to know that they cannot always or even sometimes win on the playground or in life. If you stack the teams on the playground so that everyone feels equal joy- you are setting them up for failure when they enter the REAL world.

Romey Skreet

May 20th, 2011
8:39 am

I’ve been hearing for several days that life on earth ends tomorrow. That makes this issue somehow seem trivial and small. Goodbye to each and everyone of you.

Holy cow...

May 20th, 2011
8:39 am

…I was all primed to make the hovering, helicopter parent comment yet the 20 people who have already chimed in beat me to it – Theresa will never learn, will she – guess she thought kids might be different in AZ…

Lori

May 20th, 2011
8:44 am

I am with everyone on this one. Stay out of it as long as no one is getting hurt. It will be more damaging for you to say something. Life isn’t fair, and playground games are just one way for kids to learn this & cope. Harsh words from an adult making the kids feel inadequate will have much more far reaching consequences than loosing a game of kick ball.

That being said, I can’t believe the girls get beaten that badly every time. My son plays soccer on a co-ed team of 7-8 year olds. The girls on his team kick some major booty, even though they aren’t as big as some of the boys! And the smallest boy on the team also happens to be the fastest, so size clearly isn’t everything!

iRun

May 20th, 2011
9:14 am

Well, based on the current set of comments regarding the state of children and parenting I’d say there’s no real problem…it’s a myth. Every single comment, 100%, were about

1. Life’s not fair
2. You can’t always win
3. Let kids be kids

So, either there’s not a real epidemic of batsh!t crazy parents, or you all talk big but turn into “Mama Grizzly” when something doesn’t go your kid’s way.

From my perspective, my kid is always the athletic, talented one who excels at any activity he decides he wants to do. I do try to make him understand that he should feel lucky to have such a gift and perhaps he can make sports more fun and successful for kids who are late bloomers. Not in the sense of making the game equitable but in making him more aware that the game is funner when it’s more of a challenge, that his own skills improve if his opponent is a match, and that he can learn by teaching his buddies.

JOD

May 20th, 2011
9:15 am

This is a first – absolutely everyone is in agreement! Maybe the end of the world IS tomorrow ;o)

Denise

May 20th, 2011
9:18 am

Oh my goodness! Who cares about fair? If they are having fun, who cares? If or when they stop having fun THEY will make something different happen.

TWG, I know you love your kids…ALL kids actually…but they are definitely not as sensitive as you think. :-) Stuff won’t matter if you don’t bring it up.

RambleOn84

May 20th, 2011
9:27 am

Females are, on the whole, athletically inferior to males.

And as they mature, the differences grow much larger.

It is a fact. No amount of “reconditioning” or women’s lib can change this fact.

There’s a reason no one watches the WNBA.

RambleOn84

May 20th, 2011
9:28 am

But I don’t say that to be a jerk. The girls still need physical activity. They should start their own game.

DB

May 20th, 2011
9:29 am

That’s what recess is for — dealing with real life, instead of politically correct b.s. that misleads kids into thinking that life is fair.

As you say, the reality is that the girls ARE physically disadvantaged when it comes to a lot of physical games. Oh, well. Stop “feeling terrible” when the girls lose. They forgot it 3 minutes after the game was over!

DB

May 20th, 2011
9:31 am

@JJ: Just curious: How can she look for a job without a car?

melissa

May 20th, 2011
9:34 am

are for real? t u wasted ur time typing this mess…u can’t always get what u want. if ur children aren’t complaining then y r u? and even if they did i would tell them life isn’t fair and keep it moving. i really feel sorry for ur children!!!

motherjanegoose

May 20th, 2011
9:40 am

Super Dad

May 20th, 2011
9:44 am

I’m surprised any school allows kick-ball anymore. When I played you didn’t tag out a runner, you nailed them with the ball. Seeing as dodgeball is banned already…

dbow

May 20th, 2011
9:45 am

Just give them all medals and all will be ok. After all, as long as their feelings arent hurt they’ll be prepared for the real world. You’re typical of so many parents these days that do everything for their kids. I see so many students that dont’ know how to solve any problems for themselves and I’m not even talking about school work. These kids are ill prepared for real life issues because of parents like you. Every fart is a symphony according to parents like you.

TinaTeach

May 20th, 2011
9:48 am

When I was in elementary school in the 80s and 90s (Seems like forever ago!), you teamed up and everyone picked the best of the best. It was understood that boys would be better at dodge ball (with a few exceptions) and that girls would be better at jump rope (with a few exceptions) no one made a huge deal out of it! We accepted it and moved on.

When I played soccer I was always defense. Why? Because I never practiced at home and just wanted to play for fun. The ones who took it seriously played center field. I was fine with that. And there wasn’t any of this “Yay we tied!” bologna. The game wasn’t over till someone won and someone lost. Big deal. I will teach my kids to try to have the same attitude. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. When you lose, be gracious, when you win be gracious and that even if you are good at a game, don’t expect to win every time.

JJ

May 20th, 2011
9:50 am

@DB – she will have to figure that out. She has NUMEROUS friends who have cars. She has always been the main driver, so one of them can cart her around. I mean all the kids come over to our house, and then they all pile into her car, and I have 4 empty cars in my driveway. If she gets called for an interview, I will tell her where the keys are.

She did go to a staffing company yesterday that a friend’s mother owns. She helped her with her resume, and will put it out there for her. She also posted her resume on line.

TinaTeach

May 20th, 2011
9:50 am

Good for you JJ! I wish some of my students parents were more like you!

catlady

May 20th, 2011
9:50 am

I have to agree also. Kids need to solve some problems/issues on their own, and don’t need their parents to make it worse than it is. Too many things are “jumped on” and taken out of their hands. And no, I had 2 daughters and a slightly built son. The boy played baseball (was a darned good catcher) even after having been hurt in a freak accident and having parts of his skull missing. He got bowled over (blocking the plate) many times, got hit by slung bats, you name it. A ball hitting him in the head could have killed him. But taking that chance was better than handicapping him by thinking he was a fragile flower. Just my opinion, Theresa, but let them develop some negotiating skills on their own.

JJ

May 20th, 2011
9:53 am

@SuperDad – I don’t know how we survived. My god Dodgeball was a favorite in my school….

Teacher’s also used red pens to correct our school work. Nowadays, they use purple, so as not to hurt the child’s feelings when something is marked wrong.

No dodgeball, someone might get hurt.

No physical activity in the schools either. Johnny might get hurt. Or worse, his feelings might get hurt.

They pat you down at the Prom now.

You can’t take your own lunches to school anymore, for fear of Johnny’s peanut allergies, You can’t take in home made cookies/brownies/cupcakes because Susie can’t have real sugar, etc.

Nanny state continues……..

I say let the kids fall down and pick themselves up. How else are they going to survive in the REAL WORLD??????

dbow

May 20th, 2011
9:54 am

I think the author of this tripe is in need of readership so she concocts this stuff to stay relevent and employed. Look how many people are blasting her for this garbage of an article. We played right into her hands because no one could be this vapid in this day and age to believe the nonsense she’s spewing. Nobody is that politically correct anymore. Yeah right.

jarvis

May 20th, 2011
9:57 am

Thank you for that valuable input dbow.

Me

May 20th, 2011
10:01 am

And, when they turn 20, or 30, or 40, life won’t be fair then either!!

Beck

May 20th, 2011
10:02 am

Same as everyone else; life isn’t fair.

Theresa, I mean this in the kindest way possible. Please get a hobby that doesn’t have anything to do with your children. Join a gym, walk for a breath of fresh air, try some yoga… …anything that will allow you to loosen up a little and have something else to do.

motherjanegoose

May 20th, 2011
10:05 am

@ tina…our son was not as skilled at soccer, as many others. He WAS big and bulky and made an awesome goaly ( sp?) He did a wonderful job there for most of the game and then when the coach decided to be FAIR about rotating others in positions, he was taken out and they lost several games as their team was not spectacular…others were. I think that was the last year he played soccer, perhaps 6th grade?

He then moved to basketball and since he was tall, that had it’s advantages. His endurance was not as strong, as far as running down the court but the height helped. Our daughter was short, spunky and left handed…a different set of skills to enjoy. Neither excelled in sports but the both enjoyed them.

JJ…not trying to butt in with job ideas. Just trying to help. Maybe you do not want it?
I do know that HS gets out next week and there will be more kids looking for summer jobs.

motherjanegoose

May 20th, 2011
10:09 am

FYI…we just got back from a week at the beach. I worked 3 days, as I have clients there.
Hubby did not. Hubby ate all sorts of things all day long, that I declined. He cooked big breakfasts and we went out to eat for dinner. When we got home, I gained 3 pounds and he lost 1 pound. How is that fair :)? Off to walk the dog….

MomOf2Girls

May 20th, 2011
10:15 am

MJG – life’s not fair, it’s a beach :-)

JJ

May 20th, 2011
10:21 am

@MJG – thanks. She is on craigslist every day…..

MTM

May 20th, 2011
10:33 am

It bothers her more than the kids. Just let them play, that’s all they really want to do anyway. I spent part of my Life as a single Dad and was always wondering where I could take Nick for fun. My Mom would tell me,”just stay home and PLAY with him, that’s all he really wants to do”. She was right(as usual!). Kids just want to play, mostly not even thinking of the odds. They will learn to Compete soon enough. But recess is just to relax and PLAY.
Imagine how they’ll feel when they actually win that 1 out of the 100th game. That 1 win will allow them to brag FOREVER. And a life lesson will be learned without mommy around. What a concept, learning on your own… : )

Greg S.

May 20th, 2011
10:37 am

Of course the kids organize unfair teams! Parents and teachers need to step in to help make the game fair. There are already plenty of inequities in life. Teaching fairness is what parents/teachers are SUPPOSED to do. Left to themselves, most kids and a lot of adults will tilt the scales in their favor. There are time for that but not on the playground!

Jeff

May 20th, 2011
10:38 am

TWG, you’re not going to write a perfect one everyday! You’re getting creamed today but hang in there! Lol.