By Jonathon Blevins
Everyone champions women who make headway in sports dominated by men. Danica Patrik, Michelle Wie, and this history of girls playing football are examples of female trend setters in the world of co-ed sports.
Enter Keeling Pilaro. He is a 13 yr old MALE who plays FEMALE field hockey. Pilaro has become the “star player” of high school team. Unfortunately, in Suffolk County, NY, the star player is awarded by being removed from the team.
The legal question is whether the removal of the male student by Southampton High School is a violation of Title IX.
More poignantly, the social question is whether anyone will champion a male’s wish to play a female sport.
In a society that attempts to be politically correct in every aspect of life and attempts to negate our differences, the latter question is a tough pill. Generally, genetics make male bigger, stronger and faster than females. Our species evolved with a physically strong male gender (whether you like it or not). Thus, it is inevitable that boys would dominate at female sports. This, of course, is the reason why male and female athletes traditionally compete against those of the same gender.
In this case, it does not appear that Pilaro has a distinct advantage over his female teammates or competitors. But, a female coach of a competing high school has a problem with Pilaro’s participation: :
“It’s not that I’m trying to discourage his passion of the game,” she said. “But just because he’s not much taller or heavier than his competition, doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a significant strength advantage over the girls.”
Title IX was designed to attempt to make female sports as available as male sports. However, the reality of Title IX is that is created gaps in available sports for both genders. Females should be allowed to compete in male sports, if they wish. The mandatory corollary to that rule is that males should be allowed to compete against females, if they wish. To allow one rule and not the other is discriminatory.
Dana Edell, the executive director of SPARK movement, a girls activist organization opined:
“If [Pilaro's] not allowed to try out for the team, that opens up the door for all kinds of discrimination.”
It remains to be seen whether any civil rights groups or Title IX champions will advocate for Pilaro. If they choose to ignore this issue, it is a disservice to their cause. Further as Edell stated this would open up possible discrimination for all sports and genders.
What would be the reaction if a transgender pre-operative male wanted to play female sports?