A Call To Action
This fall, KCP Loft, an imprint of Kids Can Press, has some compelling new YA titles sure to inspire conversation and change. None are as compelling as Carrie S. Allen’s YA title Michigan vs The Boys. When I first saw this title I was not sure what to expect. I knew it was about hockey but I assumed it was about the state of Michigan and boys hockey. I was so thrilled when I opened the book to discover it is in fact a book about a young woman so passionate about playing the beautiful game, when her high school team is forced to fold due to school budget cuts, she tries out for the varsity team. Not only does she try out but she skates circles around the boys. Carrie S. Allen has written an honest and hard hitting story about the adversity faced by women in male-dominated sports.
I played hockey as a teenager. Fortunately I had a local girls team I was able to play on. We weren’t the best team around but we did have a lot of fun. I always felt special being one of the only girls at my high school playing hockey and I had such incredible and supportive team mates. That’s the thing about women’s team sports, there is a sisterhood and a camaraderie that goes beyond the game. That’s not to say the same doesn’t apply to men’s sports, it’s just different.
When Michigan tries out for her high school varsity team she is clearly a star. She is so good the coach has no excuse to cut her from the team but he is certainly not happy about having a woman on his men’s team and makes that plainly obvious. The boys are even more upset setting into motion incidents of hazing and abuse suffered not only by Michigan but other members of the team. Throughout the whole story Michigan is constantly at odds with herself, wanting to prove she belongs, that she can hack it, on the team and wondering if the abuse she is suffering puts others to come after her in even greater danger. There is no sugar coating the facts in this book. We know these incidents of hazing occur. Just watch the news cycle and eventually the hazing incidents are exposed leading to serious consequences for the perpetrators. We have seen it here in Toronto and I’m sure in many small towns and cities across the country.
It is clear Carrie S. Allen’s work is a call to action. Michigan vs The Boys is a call for a culture change in team sports. No longer is hazing acceptable, no longer is putting teammates in dangerous and compromising positions acceptable. Just because it happened to you when you were coming up, does not make it acceptable! Many sports organizations are heeding this call to action but more change needs to be made. We need books like Michigan vs The Boys to bring into sharp focus the harm these practices inflict and to empower young athletes to step up and blow the whistle when they witness incidents of hazing and abuse. A copy of this incredible book was given to all of the players at the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association Dream Gap Tour to honour the work of these incredible athletes and “to shine a light a spotlight on all the amazing women in sports, to create awareness of the inequality and inequity that still exists…” Carrie S. Allen