Friday, May 11, 2012

Catholic School Forfeits Game Rather Than Play a Girl

Paige Sultzbach is a 15-year-old girl who plays on the boys' baseball team at Mesa Preparatory Academy, a charter high school in Phoenix, Arizona. She is also quite good. She played softball in middle school, but her school doesn't have a softball or girls' baseball team, so she joined the boys' team with the full support of her coach. Her team played very well and qualified for the league's championship. However, this article has nothing to do with her prowess at the sport.

Another school in the Arizona Charter Athletic Association baseball league, catholic  school Our Lady of Sorrows, decided to forfeit the game between their respective teams rather than play a team with a female player on it. Their reasoning was that they try to teach their male students to respect women and that it would be harmful to this effort to place boys in athletic competition against their female classmates. It is following this rationale that Our Lady of Sorrows has banned all co-ed sports. In previous games between the two schools, Paige's coach had decided to bench her for the game, but finally stood his ground, stating that disbarring her from playing second base at the championship game would be unfair. In response, Our Lady of Sorrows forfeited the game to Mesa, which left the team severely disappointed that they didn't get to earn the win fair and square.

When asked for comment about the event, Pamela Sultzbach, Paige's mother said, This is not a contact sport, it shouldn’t be an issue. It wasn’t that they were afraid they were going to hurt or injure her, it’s that [they believe] a girl’s place is not on a field.” It has to be clear to anyone reading this (not to mention those that have seen A League of Their Own) that Our Lady of Sorrows' decision is in nobody's best interest and is motivated by the underlying sexist attitudes that pervade religious education. Refusing to compete against a girl and relegating girls to only their own sports teams falls into the faulty "separate but equal" logic and only reinforces the idea that women are somehow less than men. I think that healthy competition against the opposing gender promotes respect and equality between the sexes.

In many sports, such as Ultimate, there are are Women's teams, Mixed teams and Open teams, the latter of which is a traditionally Men's, but women can play. The general rationale of separating men's and women's teams is that men compete at a higher athletic level than women, so it would unfair to force them to compete against each other. Following that logic, it would be fair to let any woman that feels she can compete at the level of physicality of the men's team to participate.


  1. This school says that "they try to teach their male students to respect women and that it would be harmful to this effort to place boys in athletic competition against their female classmates." This is absolutely ridiculous. Does this mean that boys cannot respect each other because they participate in athletic competition against one another? If boys are allowed to play against boys, but not against girls, it automatically separates the genders in a completely unnecessary way. It fosters the idea in young boys' minds that girls are not on the same level as them, and that they must be placed in their own category of people.

    In a previous post on this blog on the topic of Title IX, it was mentioned that a boy was banned from an all girls team for being "too good", which definitely went against Title IX. I feel the same way about this. If we want equality of gender, we can't continue to make "exceptions" for females. Equality of gender doesn't mean special treatment of women, but rather EQUAL treatment of both genders. This is the only way equality can truly be achieved.

  2. Clearly Our Lady of Sorrows follows the logic that boys are naturally better at athletics than females; thus interaction within sports would cause them to feel superior to women because, when competing against each other, the former would always win. This sense of superiority would then carry over onto every other respect of life, so separating men and women would promote gender equality. However, this in and of itself is a pretty blatant display of gender disparity because the school's assumptions themselves are based upon women's inferiority—it's pathetic.

    Personally, I feel that the exact opposite of what this school is doing can serve the end goal of promoting gender equality. I grew up playing soccer competitively and for one season my coach enrolled my club team [of all girls, of course] into the corresponding age group of boys' league. And actually, my team was the first and only girls' team in our club. Anyways, my team [not be cocky] was a group of extremely talented soccer players and we had an excellent coach who helped us excel as a team. So, when we played in the boys league and did so well as to make it to the league finals—and lost a very close game in the last ten minutes by one point—people were very impressed. I think that allowing girls to compete with boys athletically can actually foster gender equality by permitting boys to witness firsthand that female athletic abilities can be just as strong, if not stronger, than those of males.


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