It'd be nice if we could all just play to­gether

The Covington News - - Sports -

While deep in REM sleep the other night, I had a crazy dream.

I was play­ing high school fast­pitch soft­ball and we were deep in the state play­offs. The other team was all chapped that I was on the team be­cause, af­ter all, I'm a guy and ev­ery­one else was fe­male.

Be­fore I could take my cuts, the op­pos­ing coach ar­gued ve­he­mently that there was no way his pitcher should have to throw to me. It wasn’t fair. Af­ter a dis­cus­sion with both coaches and the um­pires, which in­volved read­ing through some sort of rule­book, it was de­ter­mined I could play.

When I awoke, this dream was still fresh on my mind. So I told my wife about it and posed the ques­tion of males play­ing on her vol­ley­ball team. She didn’t sup- port it. I asked her why girls are al­lowed to play foot­ball and wres­tle and she mut­tered some­thing about Ti­tle IX. If girls can play on boys’ teams, why can boys play on girls’ teams, I thought?

I had no idea what ex­actly Ti­tle IX en­tails, so I looked it up.

First, Ti­tle IX ap­plies only to schools that re­ceive fed­eral money. Not only that, Ge­or­gia has its own law that ad­dresses gen­der dis­crim­i­na­tion and re­gard­less of what Ti­tle IX says, that’s the guide­line the Ge­or­gia Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion goes by. Ac­cord­ing to the Ge­or­gia DOE, no ath­lete should be de­nied an op­por­tu­nity to play a sport be­cause of their gen­der. It goes on to say, if there isn’t enough in­ter­est, a sport does not have to be of­fered.

The way I un­der­stand ev­ery­thing, girls are al­lowed to play on boys’ teams be­cause there are more male sports than fe­male. I’m not so sure that makes much sense, though.

As it stands in New­ton County, there is one more male sport

than fe­male in the high schools. Boys have foot­ball, base­ball and wrestling while girls have soft­ball and vol­ley­ball. Ev­ery other sport like track, cross coun­try, bas­ket­ball, ten­nis and golf has both a boys and girls team. Be­cause we prob­a­bly won’t see a day where enough fe­male ath­letes em­brace play­ing foot­ball and wrestling to con­sti­tute form­ing teams and or­ga­niz­ing leagues, it’s prob­a­bly safe to as­sume there will al­ways be at least one, if not two more male sports than fe­male in high schools and col­leges.

Oc­ca­sion­ally girls have tried out for and have been se­lected to foot­ball and wrestling teams. Un­for­tu­nately, more times than not, when that hap­pens, it’s done for the wrong rea­sons. Un­less a fe­male foot­ball player can take a hit con­sis­tently, which based on hu­man phys­i­ol­ogy, is far less likely than it is for a male ath­lete, a girl would only have value as a kicker. And in wrestling, un­less a fe­male ath­lete can com­pete with the males in her weight class on her own team, she won’t get to wres­tle in a match.

There are no girls on any of the three county high school foot­ball teams, but one girl wres­tled for East­side. Ear­lier this year, a wrestler in Iowa for­feited his chance at a state cham­pi­onship be­cause he re­fused to wres­tle a girl. While we didn’t have an is­sue at East­side, the stir caused by the Iowa in­ci­dent was un­for­tu­nate on more than one level. It brought un­fair me­dia at­ten­tion on the fe­male wrestler while forc­ing the male to make a tough choice.

Ath­letes chal­lenge Ti­tle IX and sim­i­lar state laws and it’s not hard to do. No­body wants to fight gen­der dis­crim­i­na­tion. In re­al­ity though, I have as much busi­ness play­ing fast-pitch soft­ball as a woman has play­ing foot­ball. Sports and the rules that gov­ern their competition are de­vel­oped gen­der spe­cific.

By no means does that mean there isn’t a mi­nor­ity of male ath­letes that would prob­a­bly be bet­ter served hit­ting and field­ing a soft­ball, on a smaller field ver­sus play­ing base­ball, or there are a hand­ful of fe­male ath­letes that can con­sis­tently take a hit from a 265-pound male de­fen­sive line­man. Rather, it means who­ever in­vented wrestling as the com­pet­i­tive sport we know to­day didn’t in­tend for a boy and a girl to roll around grab­bing each other’s bod­ies.

We need laws like Ti­tle IX, but they un­for­tu­nately have led to the purg­ing of in­tegrity in our so­ci­ety. It used to be, the best would face the best, re­gard­less of any­thing. As so­ci­ety has evolved, pure competition has taken a back­seat to equal­ity. If a school sys­tem says girls can wres­tle and play foot­ball, so be it. Coaches aren’t go­ing to rock the boat. But that doesn’t mean those girls will ever get a shot at play­ing. So re­ally, what’s the point here? It’s like af­fir­ma­tive ac­tion for ama­teur sports.

Maybe I should just go back to sleep.

JOSH BRIGGS SPORTS EDI­TOR

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