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SD Girls' Wrestling Proposal Seen as Breakthrough

High school athletic officials say if girls' wrestling becomes a sanctioned sport, it would be divided into four weight classes at state wrestling championships. (Adobe Stock)
High school athletic officials say if girls' wrestling becomes a sanctioned sport, it would be divided into four weight classes at state wrestling championships. (Adobe Stock)
March 11, 2020

PIERRE, S.D. -- South Dakota soon could join the list of states that formally sanctions girls' high-school wrestling. Athletic directors from across the state are expected to consider the proposal when they meet later this month.

Sarah Axelson, senior director of advocacy for the Women's Sports Foundation, said it would be another example of girls gaining important ground in high-school sports.

"It's exciting because it means more opportunities for girls," she said, "which means that more girls will have access to the benefits that sports provide."

Currently, according to the National Wrestling Coaches Association, 20 states already offer high-school wrestling for girls. In overall sports participation, surveys by the National Federation of High School Associations show that South Dakota is among the top states for girls who are active in athletics.

In trying to get more gender quality in high school sports, Axelson said, parents and coaches often forget about such protections as Title IX, the federal law that prohibits discrimination in education programs or activities.

"The research shows us that not only do student athletes not know what Title IX is, but oftentimes athletic directors have never been formally taught," she said. "And so, part of the struggle with Title IX compliance is that you have to know your rights, and you have to know how to advocate for them if they're not being met."

On a broader scale, one of the more notable legal challenges involves the U.S. Women's National Team, which filed a lawsuit against U.S. Soccer in demanding equal pay compared with their male counterparts.

Wrestling data is online at nwcaonline.com, and the sports participation survey is at nfhs.org.

Mike Moen, Public News Service - SD