A biological male playing on a girl’s varsity field hockey team severely injured a female opponent during a high school tournament Thursday in Massachusetts.
The female athlete for Dighton-Rehoboth High School was severely injured by a male player from Swampscott High School during the third quarter of the game. Massachusetts allows male athletes to compete on female teams if no male team is offered in the sport.
The incident occurred when the male player took a hard shot, striking the female defender with the ball in the face.
The female player can be seen immediately falling to her knees, and her screams heard, as Dighton-Rehoboth staff rush the field to administer care.
Players on the field appeared visibly shaken, many of them having to turn and look away.
After the injured player was escorted off the field, the game resumed, with the male player taking nearly the same shot, but this time scoring.
Once the goal is scored, the male player and his teammates jump up and down in celebration, and the band plays in victory, sparking some criticism of sportsmanship.
“He cracks one into this poor girl’s face, and the next play goes right back to him, in the same spot he was when he hit her, to take the same shot, which goes in for a point,” Bourbon Moon posted on X. “Who was going to stand in front of that?
“Nice coaching. He makes the point, then jumps up and down surrounded by his female teammates, celebrating in the exact spot he just hit a girl in the face 30 seconds prior. Nice sportsmanship.”
Swampscott won the game 2-0, both goals scored by the male player, allowing his team to advance in the playoffs.
The female player has reportedly been hospitalized with two lost teeth and other “significant facial and dental injuries.”
“Last night, a female field hockey player for the Dighton Rehoboth Regional High School girls’ field hockey team sustained significant facial and dental injuries when she was struck in the face by a shot in the third quarter versus Swampscott in a MIAA state playoff contest,” Dighton-Rehoboth Superintendent Bill Runey wrote.
“The shot was taken by a male member of the Swampscott girls field hockey team. This injury required hospitalization. The player, her family, teammates, and coaches remain in my prayers,” Runey continued.
Runey is asking for MIAA policies to change following the gruesome accident.
According to the current MIAA handbook, “If a school offers a single team in a particular sport, it may not restrict eligibility based on gender unless such a restriction is necessary to ensure that the school’s gendered designation of athletic opportunities complies with Title IX.”
Since Swampscott does not have separate girl’s and boy’s field hockey teams, males are eligible to play on the girl’s”s team under MIAA’s policy.
Despite Runey’s concerns, the MIAA contends there is insufficient evidence to suggest that male participation in female sports leads to additional injuries.
“We respect and understand the complexity and concerns that exist regarding student safety,” MIAA said, according to the Daily Mail. “However, student safety has not been a successful defense to excluding students of one gender from participating on teams of the opposite gender. The arguments generally fail due to the lack of correlation between injuries and mixed-gender teams.”
Runey, however, insists this incident underscores the necessity of taking steps to protect female athletes.
“Seeing the horror in the eyes of our players and coaches upon greeting their bus last night is evidence to me that there has to be a renewed approach by the MIAA to protect the safety of our athletes,” Runey said, according to CBS News.
Kelsey Bain, a captain on the Dighton-Rehoboth team, wrote a letter to MIAA, emphasizing the anatomical difference between males and females.
“Following the injury, my teammates were sobbing not only in fear for their teammate but also in fear that they had to go back out onto the field and continue a game, playing against a male athlete who hospitalized one of our own,” Bain wrote.
“The difference in the anatomy of males and females solely shows the risk involved in allowing biological males to participate in female sports. On average, male bodies have about a 10% athletic advantage over female bodies.”
Bain continues her letter by listing ways in which biological males have a physical advantage to females.
“Understanding that you can not easily change the Equal Rights Amendment, the MIAA can use the tragic incident from the November 2nd game as an opportunity to at least change girls’ field hockey,” Bain wrote.
“The rules of high school field hockey were created for female versus female play. Altering the rules and equipment to adapt to gameplay involving boys is not only an inconvenience, but it comes with a physical and emotional cost for players who are forced to change the game they love. By trying to create equality, you are only creating inequalities.”
Swampscott Public Schools stands by its decision to allow biological males to play on a female team.
Friday, a spokesperson for Swampscott said the district is “sorry to see any player get hurt,” but maintained the male player “has the exact same right to participate as any player on any team,” according to ABC 7.