It’s a story we’ve heard several times: Girl plays on guys’ football team for a while. School sanctions it entirely. Then, school suddenly stops sanctioning it.
It’s one thing if the school says “Sorry, but we can’t allow this because X, Y, and Z”, or even just that they can’t allow it from the outset. It’s entirely another to (pretend to) condone it for a while and then decide, “Oops! Sorry! Didn’t actually feel that way. Let me yank that rug out from under you a bit more. And let me stick this knife in your back and just twist a little more, too… Ah, there we go.”
Recently, such a story involving a 12-year-old by the name of Madison has come under scrutiny. I encourage you to read the school’s points about why she was kicked out, because otherwise, my arguments against them won’t make much sense. Coverage can be found here, here, and here.
I understand the concerns for this girl’s safety and health, and I think that those are perfectly valid, though I will say I rough-housed with my older brothers and got beaten up a fair amount by them and I think I left them with more lasting damage than they left me with. (The oldest still swears he has permanent bruising on his shins.) Honestly, looking at her pictures, she looks like a very solid girl, and her interview (okay, she was probably coached) indicates that she does have her wits about her. I’m pretty sure she knows how to be safe and make decisions for herself.
Back to the reasons given to her as to why she needed to leave: I have several problems with this.
First: What the hell kind of school has a CEO? I get that running schools is more or less a business, but this is the first time I have ever heard of any school (let alone a private one!) with a CEO.
Second: The way these concerns were listed, the first is that the boys might have impure thoughts? I don’t know where this guy learned child development from, but most kids going through puberty need no help in that department. Saying she’d incite (or increase) such thoughts is bull shit.
Third: The locker room talk might be too much for her to handle? I would hope that this guy’s never been in a girls’ locker room, but let me tell ya, in high school, we had a subset of girls in my PE classes that could out-raunch the guys. The rest of us didn’t really give much thought to it. (This being a Christian school, you’d think they’d want to address this whether or not girls were present, anyway…) Also, is she really in the same locker room as the boys? Maybe they oughtta fix that first…
Fourth: Boys and girls should not compete together in any sport? Gee, guess my first grade soccer experience was totally wrong then. And my recesses K-8. And my PE classes. You know what? Why don’t we just go back to separate schools for girls and boys and never let them mix? That would solve a lot of problems including, oh, the entire human race. Just a thought.
Fifth: There are other sports she can play? Yeah, I could’ve chosen to do basketball instead of volleyball, or soccer instead of volleyball, but I chose volleyball. It makes the kid happy! While her happiness is not the only consideration by far… come on! That’s like kicking me out of Computer Science just because I took computational biology instead of computer vision and telling me, “You have other majors to choose from!” It’s one thing if she actually doesn’t have the skills and/or physical bulk to make the team; it’s quite another to say “God vaguely forbids this and you have other options”.
Sixth: Private schools can do what they want. Well, can’t really argue that point. Not legally, anyway. But I think this dude’s figuring out that if people aren’t pleased with the quality of his performance as CEO, they’re gonna go elsewhere, and take their money with ‘em. (Personal story time! When a new principal took over at our high school and decided our traditions didn’t matter and that things needed to go her way, there was not just an exodus of students and parents, but an exodus—and at that, I believe it was larger, percentage-wise—of teachers, as well. Can’t really have a school without teachers. Just sayin’.)
Seventh: He prayed about it. Okay, yes, this is a religious school, and religious freedom is totally a thing that should not be taken away; not gonna dispute that. But as an argument as to why this child should not be able to play a sport, it’s pretty damn flimsy, in my opinion.
Apparently, this guy used Bible quotes to back up his points. Again, I get that religious schools do follow moral codes and generally have some sort of clause about being Biblical role models (I attended Catholic schools for 13 years, thanks very much!), but if you want things to be on even ground, you’ve gotta use the school’s rules, too, and it sounds like this argument is much more of a religious one. At the end of the day, though, his argument about private schools being able to do what they want is the only point that really matters as far as his decision sticking goes.
For now, anyway. I have no doubt that we’ve heard the last on this subject. Unfortunately, it’s pretty unlikely that any other school will say any differently; that’s just how the current rules work. But you know what the funny thing about all this is? Rules can change. It’s like magic, only not.
I really hope that all kids facing this get together and start working up their own co-ed leagues, even if they’re just informal. Surely, schools can’t ban that! I mean, that’s one way to show that the interest is there, right? If the interest is there, it would logically follow that it’s more likely to be picked up by an organization. (Though, I do have my concerns about the lowering of the place of logic in arguments these days. I’m guilty of being irrational, too, but I try to keep a cool head as much as possible.) Until then, I encourage Madison and all kids in her situation to do what they can to make their athletic dreams work as much as possible.
And if anyone can point me to the answer to the question asked in the title, I won’t say I’d be grateful, but I’d at least like to know what the basis for this claim is.