Community members decry high school’s decision to cancel powder puff football | VailDaily.com

Community members decry high school’s decision to cancel powder puff football

GYPSUM — For the first time in decades, powder puff football won't be part of Eagle Valley High School's official homecoming week activities.

But a group of parents and community members have banded together to plan a game nonetheless.

The powder puff game will be played at the Western Eagle County Metropolitan Recreation District Sports Complex in Gypsum on Saturday, Oct. 8 as a non-school-sanctioned activity. However, it will look a lot like the traditional contest with all-girl teams divided by class (freshman, sophomores, juniors and seniors), high school players acting as coaches and an EMT on-site to respond to injuries.

The organizer for the event is Paul Gallagher, a Gypsum resident who became involved when his niece informed him about the official cancellation.

"My niece came home and she was bummed," said Gallagher. "I graduated from high school over 20 years ago and I remember this being a tradition back then. The girls at (Eagle Valley High School) enjoy playing in this annual game and several boys from the high school football team help with coaching the teams. I have attended the game several times, as I, again, have relatives that attended the school. Parents came out to show their support in years past and to socialize with other parents. It was a fun tradition for the school and for the community."

When Eagle Valley High School officials sent out word that powder puff football was being dropped from the homecoming schedule, they issued a statement that reads "We recognize that changes in traditions are hard, but we feel that based on these factors this was the right thing to do."

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The school then detailed the following four specific reasons:

• "(Eagle Valley High School) has built and wants to continue providing an inclusive culture. The history of the powder puff game itself was for only a select few to participate in a modified game that was not inclusive of a greater representation of the student body."

• "In the past, a majority of the participants are athletes participating in a fall sports season. The risk of injury (specifically leg injuries and concussions) has increased since the game has intensified and become more physical. This is not healthy for our teams or athletes and the coaches of all the fall sports for our female athletes were reluctant to put them at risk for injury."

• "Our staff members who volunteered to officiate no longer wanted to participate in the event due to the nature of negative attitudes on the field, perceived notions that the games are fixed and their personal opinions that the game was unsafe."

• "CHSAA requires Eagle Valley High School to provide equal opportunity for everyone — Title IX specifically states equal opportunity for female and males. In past years, we have not been in compliance because an event for males has not been offered."

The fourth item on the list, in particular, has drawn criticism from community members. When contacted Friday, Donna Knoots of the Colorado High School Activities Association brought the question to three administrators from CHSAA who all responded that because powder puff football is not a sanctioned sport, CHSAA does not impose a Title IX standard on the activity. In fact, she noted, CHSAA has no involvement in the matter.

Doesn't 'feel right'

Eagle Valley High School Principal Greg Doan said that while people may be taking exception to the Title IX issue, he still believes canceling the game is the right decision for the school. He reiterated the statement that the atmosphere surrounding the game had become negative and because of this issue, staff members no longer wanted to be involved with the activity.

"It just didn't' feel good or right to do it anymore," said Doan.

Doan said he never received a petition from students asking to reinstate powder puff football. "I know some kids were disappointed, but there wasn't a huge reaction," said Doan.

As for the non-sanctioned game planned Oct. 8, Doan said community members always have the option of planning their own events.

"For example, we hold prom, but we don't host the dinners around it," he said.

After announcing the community organized game, Gallagher said his niece has told him approximately 60 girls have signed up to play.

"We will have an on-site supervisor to enforce good sportsmanship, a funds collector, a concessions individual, officials through WECMRD and high school football players, high school football player coaches and an EMT on hand in the event of an injury," said Gallagher. "The girls are very excited to play in this fundraising community event while showing school spirit."

If you Go…

What: Community sponsored Powder Puff football game

When: Saturday, Oct. 8

Time: Noon to 4 p.m.

Where: Gypsum Sports Complex

Details: Admission will be $2 and concessions will be sold. Proceeds will benefit the Shaw Cancer Center.