An Alabama girls’ basketball team forced to play in a boys league went on to win a championship — just to be refused the title because they were girls, according to an angry mom.
The Spain Park team of fifth-grade girls were told the only way they could continue using Hoover city gyms was to “play up a level” and compete with boys, mom Jayme Mashayekh wrote in a now-viral Facebook post last Wednesday.
“Playing the boys was a challenge they rose to meet. It made them better players and a better team,” she said of her daughter, Rylie, and her tween teammates.
“They won the 5th-grade boys’ rec league championship,” she added proudly — before noting that they “were not given the trophy.”
“Excuse me? What?” she recalled of her response at the announcement that came a few weeks before the tournament.
“What did they do to get disqualified? Did they not pay their dues? Did they not play up a level in competition?
“Oh, it’s because they’re GIRLS?!?!” she claimed.
“These 5th-grade girls played their hearts out, left it all on the floor and battled their male counterparts only to be told, ‘No, I’m sorry you don’t count.’”
In the comments, she further said that “the boys’ teams that got 2nd and 3rd places got the 1st and 2nd place trophies.”
“It was so bizarre,” she wrote.
“The director told the girls’ team they could ‘participate’ in the awards ceremony, which meant standing there watching the boys’ team they just beat get the first place trophies.”
The disappointed parent insisted it is “not about the trophies.”
“It’s the audacity,” she wrote.
She further said she was “disappointed I have to tell my daughter that things like this still happen” — and “disappointed we teach our kids to accept things they have not earned.”
“Most of all I’m disappointed in my city who won’t allow some 5th-grade girls to play basketball,” she said of the Birmingham suburb.
“While it’s definitely not about the trophy I don’t think its a lesson we should be teaching our boys or girls in this day and age,” she said.
The post quickly went viral locally, with more than 400 comments by Monday morning.
“What a sad state of affairs this was,” one person wrote, while another called it “horrendous” and “disgusting.”
“I’m so heartbroken for them. Stinks that they have to go through this at such a young age,” one commentator said.
Among the commentators was City Administrator Allan Rice, who said he and the director of parks and recreation “just learned about this.”
“We are addressing the issue with this particular team, and also putting measures in place to ensure it doesn’t happen again,” the official wrote.
Mashayekh later updated her post to confirm that the city had “reached out to make things right for the girls.”
“Thank you for all your support and hopefully this will be a step in the right direction for more/better access to facilities and opportunities for our female athletes,” she said.
In a statement Monday, after numerous local outlets shared the story, the city blamed the decision on the girls’ team being an “elite” one, stressing that they entered knowing that it disqualified them from awards.
“It is important to note the same provisions have always applied to both girls and boys ‘elite’ teams,” the statement claimed, saying that a boys’ team at the same tournament also didn’t get a trophy for winning.
The parks and rec. department “has never treated any team differently based on gender or any other factor, except for the ‘elite’s status of some teams,” the city stated.
However, the winning “elite” teams have been invited to Monday night’s council meeting “so that they can be recognized for their recent victories,” said the city, which was also reviewing its policies to ensure fairness.