By HALO KWOK
Finally, steps are being taken to ensure gender inclusivity in sports.
In a landmark decision, the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Board of Directors unanimously voted to include beach volleyball in the list of CIF sanctioned sports. Finally, generations and generations of girls will be able to follow in the footsteps of legends Misty May and Kerri Walsh.
This new revelation in the sports community is an exciting time as it levels out the playing field and allows girls the chance to have the same opportunities as boys in the athletic community.
Last week, CIF announced that in the 2021-2022 school year, girls’ beach volleyball would be available to be played in high schools throughout California. Their goal was to “allow more [females] the opportunity to compete for their high schools in a sanctioned sport across the State of California” (Sand Volleyball Association). To achieve their goal, the CIF organization only allows beach volleyball to be played by females in their program.
For starters, the Sand Volleyball Association (SVA) has been advocating for the sport to be widespread since it was founded in 2013. With beach volleyball now being a CIF sport, there is a greater incentive for participation as more colleges are able to offer scholarships for the athletes.
As of now, 83 colleges offer programs in Divisions I, II and III for beach volleyball. On top of that, the number of programs increase each year, as according to the SVA, “collegiate beach volleyball is the fastest growing sport in the nation.” Now, girls across the state can both play the sport they enjoy and also have the chance to receive college benefits. Being able to rely on a hobby to alleviate financial pressures for the pursuit of higher level education will now be available as an option to those in need. Especially for girls that were previously struggling to attend college due the high costs, this gives them a chance to further their education in a less troubling and less demanding manner.
According to a Global Sports Matters survey, about 4.5 million boys and 3.4 million girls were actively involved with high school sports in 2018-2019. The big difference in the involvement of athletics between the genders show the gap in gender inclusivity that needs to be closed, as both girls and boys should have the same opportunities to pursue their desires.
However, the simple addition of beach volleyball onto the list of CIF sanctioned sports will finally change the game. With girls all across California now being able to play one of the sports they enjoy competitively, the rise of female participation in sports is inevitable.
As of now, there are numerous established competitions for girls' volleyball outside of CIF. For example, beach volleyball tournaments hosted statewide have on average 5,000 participants per year. If those 5,000 players also get involved in the CIF program when beach volleyball is established in the league, the connection between girls and sports will eventually be furthered.
Since beach volleyball is only available for girls to play, females will be able to finally make up the majority of a sport and claim it as their own. There are heavily male-based sports like football already out there, so females deserve the same opportunity to establish a sport that they can properly represent.
Lastly, the rise in popularity of the sport is seen all throughout the nation, so the people should harness the explosion in interest as a way to include not just girls, but everyone. Even if the implementation of beach volleyball in the CIF program mainly benefits female athletes, it also helps close the gender inequality gap. By inching towards a society with no gender-based boundaries, bigoted and prejudiced views will begin to be isolated as everyone will one day becomes each other’s equal. Balancing out the system greatly benefits both genders as less discriminatory factors can affect how people perceive the world.
All in all, the impact of beach volleyball on the athletics community as a whole is destined to be life-changing. Millions of previously bolted doors will be able to be unlocked, inviting young girls into a pristine world of equal opportunity. .Even though our world is nowhere near perfect, the effort our society is making as a whole to unite with one another is enough to guarantee us a bright future free of inequity.