Columnist criticizes differences between the men’s and women’s athletic teams

by Josie Stewart, ’21

I pile into the car with four other girls on the way to the river. A cacophony of ambient sounds surrounds me. Music plays as I turn on the car, the air conditioning starting up and—almost without fail—complaints from all of us about the excessive heat.

As we make our way to practice, we always comment on the cross country athletes running on the sidewalks. All of us—who absolutely hate running—cannot imagine the many miles they travel in the intense weather.

Even from the car, you can see the sweat dripping down the boys’ shirtless backs and the sweat stains forming on girls’ shirts which leads to further discussion in the packed car. Why can’t we take our shirts off?

I would never consider myself an activist or a serious feminist of any kind, although I obviously support equality. Considering this, I can never understand the arguments made by our coaches in Crew when a brave teammate asks if we’re allowed to take off our shirts or dip our tank tops in the river to counteract the heat rising on the water.

The coaches usually respond in one of two ways. Most commonly, the argument is that the boy’s team is practicing nearby, so we shouldn’t be allowed to practice in sports bras. The other is that when our coaches rowed on the same team, this would have never been allowed.

But times have changed. The boy’s team takes off their shirts, even when having practice inside the high school, when the heat isn’t a problem. So why can’t we when it’s 80 to 90 degrees?

Just like the students running cross country, we’re sweaty, tired and focused solely on practice. Our want to take off our shirts does not come from wanting to show off. Really, we’re just overheated.