The XX Factor

An Arizona Boys’ Soccer Team Refused to Play a Team With Girls for Religious Reasons

A man dishonoring a lady.

God has offered many divine tips about how people should conduct themselves here on Earth. According to the heavenly stewards of Faith Christian School in Mesa, Arizona, one of God’s ground rules for life is that mankind should not engage in sport with or against womankind.

That’s why the high school’s boys’ soccer team forfeited a game rather than play against a team that included two girls. On Friday, Faith Christian administrators told the Foothills Academy College Prep boys’ soccer team that, because sisters Alyssa and Colette Hocking play midfield, Faith Christian would not participate in the game.

The school’s reasoning is wonderfully absurd. “I know it appears to fly in the face of what everyone is wanting to promote today, and that is equality. It is based on a religious perspective that God created guys and girls differently,” Dick Buckingham, Faith Christian’s administrative leader, told the Arizona Republic. That’s true—the Bible overfloweth with tales of God treating guys like Abraham differently from girls like Mary Magdalene. And for good reason: “The difference physically, there is a strength advantage that men have over women,” Buckingham observed. “We want to teach our men that honor of ladies is just not in sports. We struggle how to teach that if we’re allowing them to play against young ladies in a competitive game.”

So Faith Christian chose to honor ladies the way God would have: by refusing to inhabit the same field as them, thus depriving both girls and guys of the opportunity to play a game together. This has happened to Foothills Academy, which is too small to have a girls’ soccer team, before. Earlier this season, the Foothills Academy soccer team played without the Hocking sisters when the boys’ team of Our Lady of Sorrows refused to play a team that included girls. That time, the girls’ mother decided to have the girls sit out to let the rest of the team play. But last week, when Faith Christian took its principled stance to honor ladies, the Foothills Academy team voted to play with all their teammates—including the girl ones—or not at all, forcing Faith Christian to either forfeit or betray a weird interpretation of the creation story.

Faith Christian insists that its players are the ones suffering here. “We’re the ones harmed because we’re giving up a game. We think it’s better to do that than give a mixed message,” Buckingham said. A selfless act in service of a noble message is a great thing—but what is the message here? That feeble-bodied women are destined to lose to men in soccer, so men shouldn’t let them try to play at all? That it’s better for everyone to miss out on physical activity and team-building than to encourage co-ed recreation? That this “equality” everyone is “wanting to promote today” is a load of hooey because some women can’t run as fast as some men? I’m no theologian, but my sense is that Adam and Eve worked together on quite a few things in the Garden—launching humanity, falling from grace, making fierce looks from fig leaves—so it’s hard to imagine the Almighty frowning on a friendly game of football.