Title IX issues

TITLE IX ISSUES: Is it Okay for Two Senior Boys to Compete on a HS Girls’ Volleyball Team?

I think it’s fair to say that one of the greatest mandates ever passed in this country has to do with empowering girls/women to have an equal playing field when it comes to playing sports.

Title IX, which was passed in 1972,  made it a federal law that females have just as much right as their male counterparts to compete in athletics. That was, by all accounts, the original spirit and intent of that law.

For those of us who remember when Title IX went into action, it immediately guaranteed that girls/women could play a variety of sports – just as boys did.

But over the years, Title IX — at least in my opinion – has been occasionally twisted in its application, and especially when boys feel that they have a right to compete in girls’ sports.

Example: this past week two senior boys from Horace Greeley HS in Chappaqua, NY, were named to the varsity girls’ volleyball team there. The boys, one of whom is 6-0 tall, claim that since there’s no comparable boys’ volleyball team in the school (or for that matter, any where else in Westchester County), then their rights to play volleyball are being denied, and thus they have every right to compete on the girls’ team.

Here’s my perspective – and I realize this may not be politically correct: that Title IX was passed to empower females to compete in sports – not to remedy athletic situations for when boys somehow feel slighted. More specifically, I would imagine that if those two boys are playing on the girls’ squad, they are taking playing time away from other girls who want to compete. And their place on the squad may have pushed two other girls to be cut, or perhaps to be demoted to the JV team.

And of course, how is this fair to other teams which compete against Greeley and have teams comprised solely of girls?

Finally, this case involves two boys. What’s to stop five or 10 Greeley boys to try out and compete on the girls’ team?

My colleague Doug Abrams was my guest on WFAN this AM, and we debated all of these issues, and I think we both came to the same conclusion on this matter. But as Doug pointed out, these situations are usually decided by the local school board or superintendent within each town. And usually these situations are decided based upon the individual merits of the case.

For example, a year ago, Keeling Pilaro, a young man who grew up playing field hockey in Ireland but then moved to Long Island with his family, was allowed to keep playing that sport in HS. The governing body felt that Pilaro was helped in his quest to play because of his relatively small stature (4-9, 90 pounds) and that he wouldn’t be a safety threat to the girls. In other words, if he had been 6-3, 220, a different decision would probably have been made.

But to me, I still feel one has to apply common sense when it comes to Title IX issues. The law was specifically put into action to help girls/women. But in this case at Greeley HS, Title IX is being used to hold girls back by allowing two boys to play on their team. That doesn’t seem to make sense to me.