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The City of Hoover, Alabama, is facing criticism after the city-operated Hoover Rec. Center forced a 5th grade girls’ basketball team to play against boys and then denied them the championship trophy after they won.
The trophy was instead awarded to a boys’ team that came in second place, according to AL.com.
The team of fifth grade girls represented Spain Park in a competitive girls youth league for three years. Yet one parent claimed the girls were recently told they would be denied access to the Hoover gyms for training unless they competed against boys in the city’s youth recreational league.
News of the rejection comes during Women’s History Month, a time when the contributions of women are supposed to be elevated and celebrated. Yet Alabama falls behind all other U.S. states in equality for women. It’s ranked as the worst state in the South for women, according to a report from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.
Alabama girls’ basketball team rejected during Women’s History Month
The girls rose to the challenge, securing a victory against every opponent, but local officials refused to give them the trophy they earned.
“Excuse me? What?” What did they do to get disqualified? Did they not pay their dues? Did they not play up a level in competition? Oh, it’s because they’re GIRLS?!?!” Jayme Mashayekh, a parent of one of the girls, wrote in a viral Facebook post.
In an update, however, Mashayekh says Hoover, Alabama, Coach Wes Russell clarified that it was a matter of miscommunication and not about gender.
“The optics of what happened did not look good. But the city is trying to make it right. Let’s allow them to make this right,” Coach Russell stated, according to Mashayekh.
Hoover, Alabama, City Administrator Allan Rice also sent a statement to AL.com:
“On Wednesday, March 1st, 2023, the City of Hoover and the Hoover Parks and Recreation Board became aware of concerns about a recent youth basketball tournament. We are currently working to provide proper recognition to all the teams that were successful in that tournament. Also, we are reviewing the full extent of what occurred to ensure all future programs are handled appropriately.”