With all the stories in the news about girls being shunned for playing on a "boy's" team, it's hard to believe it's been 40 years since Title IX became federal law. And now for something completely different! A teenage boy is fighting officials at the head of a school field hockey league in Long Island because he wants to play on the same team ... as the girls.
Thirteen-year-old Keeling Pilaro allegedly got the boot from the team at the Southampton High School because he does well at the sport, which the county athletic officials say gives him an unfair advantage over the girls. His parents and even other girls in the league say that's not true: he's good but not the best. That seems to be why he's getting so much support around the interwebs, but frankly, they're all missing the bigger picture here.
I want my daughter to be considered "good enough" to play alongside boys on a team because she is a human being. Whether she can kick their butt or not is kind of beside the point (unless it comes to passing the tryouts ... then it very much is the point). She's human. She should get an equal chance to play.
If we want that for girls, we need that for our sons too. There are no special circumstances for equality. Either all genders are equal or they're not.
A boy like Pilaro deserves the same chance as the girls. And the way things stand, he's not getting it. Pilaro, who originally hails from Ireland, where field hockey is played by boys, doesn't have any other option to play the sport on Long Island. Like most places here in the states, there is no boys team for field hockey at Southampton or in neighboring schools. To deny him this chance is to cut him out for no reason other than what dangles between his legs.
The point of Title IX isn't to simply protect our daughters from discrimination in sports. Excuse the round-about thinking here, but protecting our boys means protecting the right to protect our daughters. Confused? OK, look at it this way: allow one gender to be slighted. Now how do you argue that the other one should be protected? It's just like teaching your kindergartner they shouldn't hit because they don't like to be hit.
So maybe letting boys on girls' teams will make it harder on the girls because they're "too good." Good ... because now girls can get on boys' teams to make it harder for THEM when they are "too good." What's good for the goose, right?
What would you do if a boy wanted to play on your daughter's team or vice versa?
Image via Nilec/Flickr