The boys soccer team from Faith Christian School in Mesa, Arizona, refused to play the Foothills Academy College Prep boys soccer team from Scottsdale on Sept. 23 because there were two girls on the Foothills Academy team (video below).
Foothills Academy coach Steven Rains told The Arizona Republic how the boys refused to play without their female teammates, Alyssa and Colette Hocking.
"Actually, it was the team's decision," Rains stated. "They would not play without their team. They felt the girls earned the right to be on the team. And they won't play without them."
Faith Christian chose to forfeit the game, which they believe made them the victims.
Dick Buckingham, administrative leader of Faith Christian, told the newspaper:
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. The difference physically, there is a strength advantage that men have over women.
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. 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.
As a matter of record, there are no verses in the Bible that forbid Christians from competing in sports that include male and female competitors.
The Faith Christian website makes no mention of gender regarding its non-discrimination policy: "FCS admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin, and does not discriminate on the basis of these in the administration of educational policies, scholarship programs, athletics, or hiring of staff."
On Sept. 19, Our Lady of Sorrows, a Catholic boys soccer team, refused to play Foothills Academy because of the two sisters, and Foothills Academy played without their female teammates.
The girls' mother, Noelle Avey, told The Arizona Republic that she pulled her daughters out in that instance, but wouldn't do it a second time:
I was like, "I don't want this stuff to hurt the boys." When it happened again, things changed. I would like to stress the outstanding character the boys on this team have shown by standing with their female teammates. I can't say enough about these boys, this team, the team parents, our coach, and our athletic director for supporting our female athletes.
I believe one aspect of sport is that it brings different religions, races and genders together. This incident has brought our Foothills team together even more and made it even stronger. This team has shown they respect female athletes and don't discriminate against them.
Randy Baum, executive director of the Canyon Athletic Association, said the schools are so small in the association that girls are allowed to play on the boys' teams if there are not enough girls to form a girls team.
The sisters were thrilled that their male teammates stood by them.
"They made us proud to be part of this team," Colette said. "And happy that they had our back. And we were happy that we were part of the decision. They included us. It made us feel like we were part of the team."