A girls basketball team had to play boys, then weren't allowed trophies after winning
AILSA CHANG, HOST:
And now to a fifth grade basketball tournament in a suburb of Birmingham, Ala. That's where a girls team beat a boys team for the title, but the girls were denied their due as champions. From member station WBHM, Cody Short reports.
CODY SHORT, BYLINE: Last week, a tournament between girls and boys basketball teams ended with the girls winning the tournament championship, but they didn't get their trophies. Jamie Mashayekh, whose daughter was on the winning team, went immediately to Facebook to call out the Hoover rec league, alleging gender discrimination. According to Mashayekh, they were told they didn't get the trophies because their team is considered an elite team. Hoover's city administrator Allan Rice says rec teams are made up of players who are placed on teams based on skills. Elite teams are made up of the best players in the area but are still allowed to compete in games in the rec league due to the lack of available space.
ALLAN RICE: They often have problems getting gym space or finding enough teams to compete against. So for many, many years, Hoover Park and Rec has accommodated their request to come in and play in rec league tournaments.
SHORT: After complaints came pouring into Hoover City Hall, they released a statement. If an elite team participates and makes it to the championship round, they are not eligible to receive any awards or trophies.
RICE: This policy has never been in writing. It's something that's been undertaken for many, many years here in Hoover through the Park and Rec board.
SHORT: The coach of the girls team, Wes Russell, said he knew the rules but chose to compete in the boys tournament anyway. Jamie Mashayekh later updated her Facebook post to say she now knows this decision was not based on gender. It was a huge lack of communication. But the city of Hoover felt compelled to do something.
RICE: It's very hard to unring a bell. And we made the decision that it was more expedient to provide these players with the recognition that some of their parents thought that they deserved and revise our policy so none of us, including players, are in this position going forward.
SHORT: Last night the mayor of Hoover awarded the girls with individual trophies and commemorative coins. For NPR News in Birmingham, I'm Cody Short.
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