Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Let Her Play

If Major League Baseball is open minded enough to allow Indians with no experience into the game, you'd think that high school baseball would be open minded enough to allow non-traditional Indianans* into the game too:
Logan Young has been playing baseball with the boys for nine years, and she and her parents don't think that should change now that she's in high school. The 14-year-old and her family have filed a federal lawsuit over an Indiana High School Athletic Association rule that prohibits the Bloomington South freshman from trying out for the high school baseball team because she is female . . .

. . . An IHSAA rule prohibits girls from trying out for baseball if their school has a softball team on the basis that the sports are comparable. But the lawsuit filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis argues that baseball and softball aren't the same sport, so girls should be able to try out for baseball.
And the plaintiffs are right. Softball is not baseball, and the fact that schools have long treated them as such is an insult to both baseball and softball players. If Ms. Young has the chops to play with the boys, she should be allowed to play with the boys.

*As a Midwesterner, I am well-aware that the only acceptable label for people from the great state of Indiana is "Hoosier." Using the word Hoosier, however, would rob this post of a lame segue from the last one, so it simply wouldn't do.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

I don't disagree, however that would open the gate for boys to tryout and play on the softball team - a team which could, in a few years, be all boys as well. That would leave the girls without softball or baseball ...

Eric said...

craig - should ability be the determining factor? ability, imo, is a subjective thing.

she could stink.

we had a girl in high school put up a big stink b/c she wanted to play football. she was allowed and quit the day after hitting began.

Craig Calcaterra said...

Anon -- good point. That said, I have no problem with dealing with men and women differently. I think the golf model would work: The best women should be given a chance to play with the men if their ability allows them to (See Sorenstam and Wie); but let's not pretend everyone is physically equal, so no letting the 150th ranked man try to go dominate the women's tour.

Unfair? Only if you ignore the fact that there are real differences between men and women. Personally, I have no problem with letting the best women try to play with the men, while still having an all-women's option available. What I don't like is pretending that softball is the same game.

Eric: obviously ability has to dictate it (I don't want tokenism in sports). If a woman can meet the same standards as a man, let her play, and make whatever accomodations are necessary for equipment, locker rooms, etc. If she can't, no accomodations for lack of ability.

As for the girl who quit your high school football team, hey, you want it, you have to deal with the environment you wanted to be a part of.

Anonymous said...

Craig:
And I agree, too, but 'someone' (the boy who didn't make the baseball team and blames it on the girl who "took his place" - instead of accepting the fact that the girl is a better baseball player) is going to sue, and if girls can play sports on boys teams, then boys can play sports on girls teams, right????

Personally I would say "no" to the above, but I can see the argument being made ... what's good for the goose ...

Craig Calcaterra said...

It always happens. Usually, though, the men suing under the "good for the goose" theory are way less committed than the women suing to be included. They're trying to make a point -- often with the backing of some political group -- and are way more likely to quit than the women, so in a lot of ways it's self policing. Practically speaking, if a guy is good enough to play with the men, he will. If he's not, he's not going to do too well with the women either.

I think the real answer is for courts to not be stupid, and to understand and appreciate that there are real physical differences between men and women that make the cases different.

Anonymous said...

Craig:

How strong of an argument (in court) would this be:
1 - By putting a girl on the boys baseball team, it's no longer a boys baseball team, it's simply a baseball team.
2 - Admission to the team is based solely on ability, not on a persons gender. If a girl is one of the top 25 (or however many) players, then she should make the baseball team.
3 - If not just one, but 2, 3, 4, etc. girls are in the top 25 people who try out for the baseball team, then all of them (2, 3, 4, etc.) should make the baseball team. It's about ability, not gender.

4 - Now that that's established, change "baseball" to "softball", and switch every reference of "boy" to "girl" and retype the 3 points above.

Craig Calcaterra said...

Anon -- I really don't know the state of the law about this stuff off the top of my head. My above comments were based on my kneejerk feelings about what constitutes fairness. I'm guessing there is some established law out there that speaks to your question, but I don't have time at the moment to look it up.

Sara K said...

Hmm. It's tricky isn't it? To a point, I agree with Craig's assessment that this situation is self-policing, because boys are unlikely to go out of their way to take part in traditionally 'girlie' sports.

But there is a problem with some sports being "all-school" sports while others are *by rule* "all-girl" sports. What happens with the one or two guys who want to play volleyball? I am wary of absolutes, but it seems like an all or nothing situation; either sports are gender-specific, or all are open to co-ed play.

And heck, co-ed volleyball teams could be really cool.

Chadillac said...

My comment may be slightly off-topic, but this post got me thinking about females in baseball. A Japanese team recently scouted a female (high-school) pitcher. I seem to remember a female player in the Twins organization sometime in the early 90's. Ring a bell with anyone? Did she make it to the bigs? Has there ever been a female in the Major Leagues? Do you think we will ever see that? Discuss....

RoyceTheBaseballHack said...

Interestingly, we collectively breeched this topic just last week on the story of Eri Yoshida, the Japanese high schooler who has been drafted by a minor league team there in Japan. As the self-appointed Vice President of Recapitulation, I'll state that, overwhelmingly, the VP's office feels most baseball fans would love to see a female in HS, college and professional ranks. Not just in the ranks, but excelling in the ranks. It does present a sticky legal issue, as far as boys also wanting to be in traditionally female sporting and support roles (drill team, etc..). No easy answer to any of this, but the great topics never are easy. I'll restate one angle I posted in my response to Shyster's blog on the Japanese pitcher, "..it would have to be a very talented and strongly devoted kid, blessed with parents who have armour-plated stomachs, to make it into a high school baseball program..."

rob said...

I'm no lawyer, but my understanding of Title IX is that the school must provide separate but equal sports opportunities (e.g., tennis, golf, swimming, etc.) Otherwise they are required to provide co-ed opportunities.

So maybe if there are enough boys who want to try out for the softball, they'll just start a boys' team.

I seem to recall reading a story (perhaps in Sports Illustrated) about a high school boy who went out for the field hockey team on a dare. He made the team, but had to wear a skirt during the games, just like the rest of the team. I think he played four years.

Justin Zeth said...

In practice, the school board would be wise to back down and let her try out, because they're going to lose the case.

As for the risk of boys taking over softball, that's much ado about nothing, because in the first place you won't find but a handful of boys that are interested in playing softball with the girls, and in the second place discrimination laws (or the interpretation thereof) haven't, that I know of, been interpreted in favor of the 'majority'.

mkd said...

I'm all about female players (in any sport) being allowed to play in men's leagues. I don't much like the idea of men crashing women's leagues. "Justice" and "Equality", both noble goals, are diverging rapidly over this issue. What a pain in the ass.