By Tim Arrick
Why is it that adults and their stupid rules have to get in the way of youth and high school sports?
This past week two teams were set to play for the State Championship in the Arizona Charter Athletic Association. Unfortunately the game didn’t happen. You see, Mesa Preparatory Academy has a girl playing second base for them and Our Lady of Sorrows (which is run by the Society of St. Pius X, an traditionalist church that broke away from Roman Catholic Church over Vatican reforms in 1970) has a strict policy prohibiting participation in co-ed athletics and believes in “forming and educating boys and girls” separately.
So, rather than realizing that this is indeed the 21st Century and that men and women compete head to head every day, the enlightened leadership of Our Lady of Sorrows decided it would be in the best interest of everyone if the game were not played. After all, it really doesn’t matter that the State Championship is what every high school starts the season pointing to at the beginning of the season. No, what matters is that there is a girl is on the other team and playing the game would upset their delicate balance of what they consider to be right and wrong.
Not for a minute, did the administration of Our Lady of Sorrows take into account that the decision would negatively impact BOTH sets of student athletes. They simply took their ball and went home. Their own athletes forbidden from playing the game and the athletes at Mesa Preparatory Academy stripped of the opportunity to actually win the State Title on the field.
A statement from the school reads “Teaching our boys to treat ladies with deference, we choose not to place them in an athletic competition where proper boundaries can only be respected with difficulty. Our school aims to instill in our boys a profound respect for women and girls.”
The problem is that by forfeiting the game, they have done exactly the opposite. They have taught the boys that if something in life doesn’t meet their expectations, they should walk away and not participate. They have taught their boys that women are not the equals of men and that they should not be regarded as even being worthy of their attention. Finally they have tried to teach one 15 year old freshman girl in Arizona that she isn’t worthy of their attention. I pray that she gets many opportunities in the future to prove them wrong.
When I was in high school, my junior year I believe, we had two girls tryout for the varsity baseball team. I had played against Tammy for a few years in youth baseball and knew she could hang with the boys and Steph was equally as good. Unfortunately my coach was locked into the same time machine that the administration of Our Lady of Sorrows is currently riding and didn’t allow the girls to make the team no matter that they were as good, if not better than some of the boys that were on the team.
I am not saying that we would have been a substantially better team with the ladies playing for us but it certainly wouldn’t have hurt.
In the end, it boils down to what it always should with youth sports, what is best for the children. In whose best interest was it to forfeit the game? I seriously doubt that they boys playing for Our Lady of Sorrows would have suffered irreparable harm had the game been played. Furthermore, I know for a fact that the team from Mesa Preparatory Academy would have been better off playing the game.
No, the only people that I can see benefiting even in a small way are the leadership at Our Lady of Sorrows. At the end of the day, they were able to say, we have a rule that discriminates against women, we affirmed that rule, and we are proud of it. Not something I would be proud of but then I think everyone should have opportunities in life, not just white men.