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Richmond coaches upset over elimination of co-ed sports teams

Doubling of badminton and tennis teams raises concerns of gym time and volunteer resources.
Steveston-London versus Fraser Heights secondary mixed double badminton championships 2024.

Volunteer coaches of Richmond high school sports teams are up in arms about a recent announcement that two co-ed sports teams will be eliminated this fall.

The BC School Sports (BCSS) voted to separate badminton and tennis teams, which are currently co-ed, into boys- and girls-only teams while eliminating the mixed doubles aspects.

For Richmond high schools, this will double the number of badminton and tennis teams, something coaches don't know if they have enough space or time to do.

Each school currently has bantam, junior and senior leagues for the three co-ed sports and with the new changes, this means there will be a total of six teams instead of three.

"Due to resources, gym time and coaching and volunteer staff, we are unable to fully cover this arrangement," said Danny Yee, volunteer coach at R.C. Palmer secondary.

The BCSS annual planning meeting took place last fall and the Competitive Fairness Committee within the BCSS recommended the split of the two sports into "gendered competition" while ultimate, which is also a co-ed sport, to remain as is.

"Ultimate has been widely embraced as a co-ed sport, no good option to separate genders," reads the report.

Jordan Abney, executive director of BCSS, said the decision was "more of an organizational decision."

"I know this isn't going to be overly popular, but for reasons bigger than just badminton, we're going to go in this direction, which went through our Legislative Assembly -- our decision-making body," said Abney.

He added the decision was "close to unanimous."

Abney told the Richmond News this decision will take into effect starting the next school year.

"From an operations standpoint, the championships are still going to run together, the leagues are going to run together."

Currently, the co-ed sports teams require a minimum of five girls and five boys to create a team. 

With the change, single-gender teams would require minimum five boys and five girls for each respective team to form.

Abney highlighted the decision had "nothing to do with trying to remove co-ed sports or reduce opportunities for girls."

"In fact, you could argue it could open the door for some teams that have girls that are interested with not enough boys to have a team," he said.

Yee, however, said there was a 90-per-cent disapproval rating from volunteer coaches on the decision made by BCSS.

He said high school co-ed sports are "essential to the growth of a sport."

"It not only builds on school/team pride, work ethics and leadership but most importantly, equality in sports," said Yee.

"We as coaches do not agree that the split will have any positive outcomes and will put, us, as coaches, to decide to support a girls or boys team. This makes it hard for us to choose as every school has so many talented athletes that should be showcased."

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