State’s Attempt To Be Fair To Female Athletes May Backfire

By this fall, it will be much easier for girls who want to play boys varsity sports to do so.

That’s not a bad thing.

Girls who can athletically compete should be able to do so without demeaning, invasive tests or having to do more to prove they are athletically capable than a boy of the same age. On that front, we can’t disagree with the state Education Department’s decision to end the Tanner test, a process during which female athletes had to go through embarrassing examinations before they could play sports with boys. And, in a world in which parents tell their daughters they can do anything they want to, it’s patently unfair to hold girls to a higher standard than boys playing the same sports.

Those decisions should be made based on physical ability and skill. Schools will have to devise policies that will determine how girls who want to play boys sports can prove their mettle – but frankly, that should be done on the field. If you can play, you can play.

The problem is, in its attempt to bring fairness to girls who have the ability to play boys sports, the state may inadvertently damage other girls sports. There will be no change to sports where there is a team for boys and girls – like basketball, for instance.

But flag football, played by girls in the spring, would be open to boys unless schools create a new boys flag football program. Girls volleyball could quickly become co-ed in the fall in a place like Chautauqua County, which hasn’t had boys volleyball for years. Boys who have trouble playing baseball are likely to be able to play girls softball – that ball is a lot easier to see, though anyone who has watched the two sports knows they are completely different games.

For every girl who has the physical capability to play with the boys, there are girls who don’t. They need the arena created by federal Title 9 legislation to have an opportunity to compete. Opening that arena to boys with greater physical gifts can hurt the very girls that Title 9 aimed to help. We’d say it is an unintended consequence, but Regent Roger Tilles specifically mentioned hoping to see more boys playing girls field hockey in Long Island if the Board of Regents’ proposal is officially enacted for the coming fall sports season.

It’s safe to say, then, that the state has an intended consequence. The Board of Regents should keep in mind that the door it’s opening swings both ways.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $2.99/week.

Subscribe Today