Boys Playing Girls’ Field Hockey Have More Than Doubled In Massachusetts Since 2016

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Boys playing on girls’ high school field hockey is becoming more common in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

From fall 2016 to fall 2022, the number of boys playing on these teams in the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association more than doubled, data provided to NewBostonPost from the MIAA late last week revealed.

Available data shows that 28 boys played in the fall 2016 season, 36 boys in the fall 2017 season, 37 boys in fall 2018, 41 boys in fall 2019, 50 boys in fall 2021, and 66 boys in fall 2022.

The MIAA does not have complete athletic participation data for the 2020-2021 school year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

That’s a 235 percent increase from 2016 to 2022.

Here is a graph showing that growth, with a gap for fall 2020 because of the coronavirus shutdowns:


Previously, the most recent athletic participation data available from the MIAA was from the 2019-2020 school year. However, since NewBostonPost has made several requests for updated data in recent years, most recently in June 2023, an MIAA spokesman emailed NewBostonPost last week — five months after that request was made — to inform the publication that data from the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 school years is now available. 

Boys playing field hockey has been the subject of controversy in Massachusetts in recent years.

In its 2-1 loss to Swampscott in the MIAA Division 3 Round of 32 matchup against Swampscott on Thursday, November 2, a girl on the Dighton-Rehoboth team got seriously hurt. Swampscott High senior captain and Northeastern Conference All-Star Sawyer Groothuis, a boy, drilled a girl in the face with a shot.

The female player suffered significant dental and facial injuries that required her to go to the hospital, Dighton-Rehoboth superintendent Bill Runey confirmed in a letter to parents earlier this month.

Additionally, Lucas Crook, who graduated from Somerset Berkley Regional High School in 2020, made headlines for being an elite field hockey player.

Crook helped Somerset Berkley win back-to-back Division 1 state championships in 2018 and 2019; he scored the game-winning goal in overtime in his team’s 2-1 state championship win over Nashoba in 2018. In 2019, he had 55 goals and 33 assists. In his high school career, he scored 142 goals and 122 assists, making him the leading scorer in school history.

He was also named South Coast Conference’s Most Valuable Player as a senior — and named to The Boston Globe All-Scholastic team.

Crook was a three-sport athlete in high school. He also played boys’ basketball and baseball. 

His younger brother Ryan is now a freshman on the team at Somerset-Berkley; the team lost its Division 2 state semifinal game against Norwood 2-1 on Tuesday, November 14.

In any other state, a boy who identifies as a boy playing on the girls’ team would be unheard of. However, Massachusetts is the only state where boys not only can play high school field hockey with the girls but also do it every year and make major impacts on their respective teams.

The state allows boys to play field hockey because of the 1979 Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court decision in Attorney General v. Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association. In it, the court ruled that the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association’s policy of the time that stated “No boy may play on a girls’ team” was unlawful because in the court’s view, it violated the Equal Rights Amendment of the Massachusetts Constitution.

The Equal Rights Amendment of the Massachusetts Constitution states:


All people are born free and equal and have certain natural, essential and unalienable rights; among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; that of acquiring, possessing and protecting property; in fine, that of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness. Equality under the law shall not be denied or abridged because of sex, race, color, creed or national origin.


Since boys’ high school field hockey does not exist in Massachusetts, that means boys can play on the girls’ teams.

The state’s Equal Rights Amendment was relatively new at the time. It passed at the ballot in the November 1976 general election with 60.4 percent supporting and 39.6 percent opposing, according to the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office. Every single county voted in favor of the proposed amendment.

The MIAA has not yet released its fall 2023 athletic participation data, so it is unclear how many boys played girls’ field hockey this season.


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