Hoover says a girls basketball team’s treatment after topping the boys is a miscommunication
A fifth-grade basketball tournament in Hoover grabbed the limelight recently after a girls’ team beat a boys’ team, and the new champions were denied their due.
Jayme Mashayekh, whose daughter was on the winning team, went immediately to Facebook to call out the Hoover Rec League, alleging gender discrimination. According to Mashayekh, they were told they didn’t get the trophies because their team is considered an “elite” team.
Hoover’s City Administrator Allan Rice says rec teams and elite teams are different. Rec teams are made up of players who sign up, are evaluated on skill level and evenly divided up so one team isn’t superior to another. “Elite” teams are hand selected and made up of the best players in the area but are still allowed to compete in games in the rec league, due to the lack of available space.
“They often have problems getting gym space or finding enough teams to compete against,” Rice said. “So for many many years, Hoover Parks and Rec have accommodated their request to come in and play in rec league tournaments.”
Complaints came pouring into Hoover City Hall, prompting a response from city officials
“If an ‘elite’ team participates and makes it to the championship round, they are not eligible to receive any awards or trophies,” they wrote in a statement.
But this policy wasn’t known to the general public or the parents.
“This policy has never been in writing. It’s something that’s been undertaken for many many years here in Hoover through the Park and Rec Board,” Rice said.
The coach of the girl’s team, Wes Russell, said he knew the rules but chose to compete in this boys’ tournament anyway.
Jayme Mashayekh later updated her Facebook post to say she now knows this decision was not based on gender, but that it was a huge lack of communication.
However, the city of Hoover felt compelled to do something since the story made national headlines.
“It’s very hard to unring a bell. And we made the decision to be more expedient to provide these players with the recognition that some of their parents felt that they deserved, and revise our policy so none of us, including players, are in this position going forward,” Rice said.
On Monday night, before the Hoover City Council meeting, the mayor of Hoover awarded the girls with individual trophies and commemorative coins.