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After being disqualified for breaking a tournament's 'no girls allowed' rule, her team had her back.

Kids' sports don't need to be split by gender.

For the past two seasons, 10-year-old Kymora Johnson has played basketball for the Charlottesville Cavaliers.

For years, Kymora wanted to be part of a team, and as soon as she was old enough, Kymora's mom, Jessica Thomas-Johnson, signed her up.

Kymora has played point guard for the Virginia-based team ever since and played with them in the national championship tournament each of the past three years. And while the first two trips to the tournament went without a hitch, things didn't go so great this time around.


Photo from Jessica Thomas-Johnson.

On Aug. 1, 2015, Kymora's team, the Cavaliers, beat the New Jersey Shoreshots 47-45, or at least, that's what everyone thought.

After the game, however, tournament officials told Cavaliers coach Joe Mallory that the team had broken a rule and that the game would be recorded as a 1-0 loss.

The Cavaliers had been disqualified. And the reason? Kymora is a girl.


As it turns out, a new rule had been added to this year's tournament rules: No girls allowed.

In an interview with ABC News, Mallory said he had no clue there had been a rule change, and he has a point; there's no mention of this rule on the tournament eligibility website.

"As adults we know life isn't fair all the time but it was very touching to see these kids hold their heads high and stand up for what is right." — Facebook post by the Cavaliers

"I said, 'You checked us in.' We went through the whole process," he told ABC. "They already knew that she was a female from the check-in. ... They go through an interview process with the staff of the NTBA, and they ask them questions. She had a pink bow and had her hair down. They knew she was a girl."


The rule is actually hidden on a separate page titled "Other Rules/Regulations."

The tournament states that because there are both girls and boys divisions, Kymora needs to play on a girls team. There's just one catch: The Cavaliers don't have a girls team in her age group.

Staying true to the team motto, "Team first, me second," Kymora's teammates came together in her support.

The team showed up to the semifinal game they would have played in wearing the pink uniforms they'd worn in the past to show support for breast cancer awareness — this time to support their teammate, Kymora.

Photo from Jessica Thomas-Johnson.

The team posted a message to their Facebook page:

"Everyone at this tournament knows these kids deserved to play. We were in pink to once again represent Breast Cancer and also support our own Kymora Johnson. We had our own quiet protest in what we believe is not right. Everyone else cheered us on and shook the kids hands. As adults we know life isn't fair all the time but it was very touching to see these kids hold their heads high and stand up for what is right. As we say often 'basketball is more than just a game.' ‪#‎lifelessons‬"

Heartwarming stand of solidarity aside, Kymora's story begs the question: Why is it necessary to split things into "boys" teams and "girls" teams, especially at such young age?

In an article for Reason, A. Barton Hinkle asked just that: Why do we still segregate sports by gender? The reason behind sex-segregation is usually explained by pointing to the fact that men typically have higher levels of testosterone than women and have more upper body strength on average as a result.

"Sports are one of the last bastions of society where equality of opportunity reigns – and equality of results is out of place. Boxing and mixed martial arts make allowances for physical type by dividing participants into different weight classes. Most sports don't. And many sports, from fencing to diving, demand qualities other than mere brute strength. So why segregate them?

"Granted, most women can't perform at the level of professional male athletes. So what? Most men can't perform at the level of professional male athletes either. Averages and medians are beside the point. Elite sports is a celebration of those so far beyond the ordinary that most of us can only sit back and gaze in awe, whether they're men or women."

And this goes without mentioning the fact that at 10 years old, prior to puberty, it's not as though there's any difference between boys and girls in terms of athletic ability.

Photo from Jessica Thomas-Johnson.

Splitting kids up so young serves what purpose exactly? To instill the idea that when it comes to sports, girls are less awesome than boys? To prepare them for a lifetime of being told they "play like a girl?"

There's nothing wrong with "playing like a girl." If youth sports are meant to teach life lessons, that's a good one. It's a shame the tournament organizers didn't agree.

Health

4 simple hacks to help you meet your healthy eating goals

Trying to eat healthier? Try these 4 totally doable tricks.

Photo by Anna Pelzer on Unsplash

Most of us want to eat healthier but need some help to make it happen.

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When it comes to choosing what to eat, we live in a uniquely challenging era. Never before have humans known more about nutrition and how to eat for optimal health, and yet we’ve never been more surrounded by distractions and temptations that derail us from making healthy choices.

Some people might be able to decide “I’m going to eat healthier!” and do so without any problem, but those folks are unicorns. Most of us know what we should do, but need a little help making it happen—like some simple hacks, tips and tricks for avoiding pitfalls on the road to healthier eating.

While recognizing that what works for one person may not work for another, here are some helpful habits and approaches that might help you move closer to your healthy eating goals.

man pulling chip out of a chip bagOur mouths loves chips. Our bodies not so much.Photo by Bermix Studio on Unsplash

Goal: Snack on less junk food

Tip: Focus your willpower on the grocery store, not your home

Willpower is a limited commodity for most of us, and it is no match for a bag of potato chips sitting on top of the fridge. It’s just a fact. Channeling your willpower at the grocery store can save you from having to fight that battle at home. If you don’t bring chips into your house in the first place, you’ll find it a lot easier to reach for something healthier.

The key to successful shopping trips is to always go to the store with a specific list and a full stomach—you’ll feel much less tempted to buy the junky snack foods if you’re already satiated. Also, finding healthier alternatives that will still satisfy your cravings for salty or crunchy, or fatty foods helps. Sugar snap peas have a surprisingly satisfying crunch, apples and nut butter hit that sweet-and-salty craving, etc.

slice of cakeYou can eat well without giving up sweets completely.Photo by Caitlyn de Wild on Unsplash

Goal: Eat less sugar

Tip: Instead of “deprive,” think “delay” or “decrease and delight”

Sugar is a tricky one. Some people find it easier to cut out added sugars altogether, but that can create an all-or-nothing mindset that all too often results in “all.” Eating more whole foods and less processed foods can help us cut out a lot of ancillary sugar, but we still live in a world with birthday cakes and dessert courses.

One approach to dessert temptation is to delay instead of deprive. Tell yourself you can have any sweet you want…tomorrow. This mental trick flips the “I’ll just indulge today and start eating healthier tomorrow” idea on its head. It’s a lot easier to resist something you know you can have tomorrow than to say no to something you think you’ll never get to have again.

Another approach when you really want to enjoy a dessert at that moment is to decrease the amount and really truly savor it. Eat each bite slowly, delighting in the full taste and satisfaction of it. As soon as that delight starts to diminish, even a little, stop eating. You’ve gotten what you wanted out of it. You don’t have to finish it. (After all, you can always have more tomorrow!)

colorful fresh food on a plateA naturally colorful meal is a healthy meal.Photo by Anna Pelzer on Unsplash

Goal: Eat healthier meals

Tip: Focus on fresh foods and plan meals ahead of time

Meal planning is easier than ever before. The internet is filled with countless tools—everything from recipes to shopping lists to meal planning apps—and it’s as awesome as it is overwhelming.

Planning ahead takes the guesswork and decision fatigue out of cooking, preventing the inevitable “Let’s just order a pizza.” You can have a repeating 3-week or 4-week menu of your favorite meals so you never have to think about what you’re going to eat, or you can meal plan once a week to try new recipes and keep things fresh.

It might help to designate one day a week to “shop and chop”—getting and prepping the ingredients for the week’s meals so they’re ready to go in your fridge or freezer.

woman holding blueberries in her handsOrganic foods are better for the Earth and for us.Photo by andrew welch on Unsplash

Goal: Eat more organic/humanely raised food

Tip: Utilize the “dirty dozen” and “clean 15” lists to prioritize

Many people choose organic because they want to avoid pesticides and other potentially harmful chemicals. Organic food is also better for the planet, and according to the Mayo Clinic, studies have shown that organic produce is higher in certain nutrients.

Most people don’t buy everything organic, but there are some foods that should take priority over others. Each year, researchers from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) analyze thousands of samples of dozens of fruits and vegetables. From this data, they create a list of the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15” fruits and vegetables, indicating what produce has the most and least pesticide residue. These lists give people a good place to start focusing their transition to more organic foods.

To make organic eating even simpler, you can shop O Organics® at your local Albertsons or Safeway stores. The O Organics brand offers a wide range of affordable USDA-certified organic products in every aisle. If you’re focusing on fresh foods, O Organics produce is always grown without synthetic pesticides, is farmed to conserve biodiversity, and is always non-GMO. All animal-based O Organics products are certified humane as well. Even switching part of your grocery list to organic can make a positive impact on the planet and the people you feed.

Healthy eating habits don’t have to be all or nothing, and they don’t have to be complicated. A few simple mindset changes at home and habit changes at the grocery store can make a big difference.

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Photo from Tedx Talk on YouTube.

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