In Locus Grove Georgia 12 year old Maddy Blythe wanted to play football. Since there is no girls team at the Strong Rock Christian School where she attends, she tried out and was placed on the middle school boys football team. After some time and quite a bit of praise from her coach, she and her mother were told she could no longer play on the team. According to the girl’s mother they were called into the school office and told by the school CEO that:
“he did not believe girls should play on boys teams. He was worried 1) the boys might have impure thoughts, 2) the locker room talk might be a bit much for her to handle, 3) boys and girls should not compete in any sport, 4) there are other sports she can play, 5) they are a private school and can make any decision they want, and 6) he prayed about it and this was the right thing to do.”
And like many Christians when he was done laying out his poorly conceived arguments he quoted the Bible to try to seal the deal, stating “men and women are created equal but different and therefore should not be allowed to play the same sports.” Of all the reasons the school CEO could have laid out to the only one of the six listed with any merit is number 5; he can do whatever he wants to.
What really intrigued me about this story however, was the argument of the school administrator. He has so thoroughly strained out the gnat in his cup that he has swallowed the camel. His first two arguments betray huge issues that should be more concerning to a Christian school administrator than whether girls and boys should play together. Let’s start with the “impure thoughts”. This isn’t the lingerie football league. A twelve year old girl in football pads looks just like a twelve year old boy in football pads. I’d bet money that those boys are more concerned about the cheerleaders on the sidelines than the girl standing next to them with a helmet on. If you’re concerned about their thoughts about young women, maybe the volleyball team needs to wear pants and the school dress code needs to extend the length of skirts to below the knee.
Next comes the “locker room talk” which is apparently far too inappropriate for a young girl, but not a young boy. It’s a fine group of young Christian men he has placed his faith in to represent Christ through sportsmanship. Not to mention his athletic director and coach whom he should be concerned about leading an example of men who respect women. Maybe this is an administrator who believes “boys will be boys” and such conversations are only natural, so why try to teach otherwise.
One could surmise from the two arguments that the coach is allowing a girl to shower and change in the same locker room as the boys. In no school, Christian or otherwise, could I ever imagine this occurring, but this is how flawed his arguments are. The school CEO is betraying his own preconceived notions of gender equality along with a poor acumen for the changing male/female stereotypes. He fails to understand that this generation is more tolerant and inclusive than any generation before it, and by continuing to foster archaic gender roles for sports he’s only passing on the poor judgment of those who refuse to see the world through new eyes who don’t see barriers.
The only real reason not to allow the girl to play football is safety. Sure it works now while she’s 12, but as the boys grow, start lifting weights, and eating 8000 calories a day she’ll quickly find herself outmatched. More than the impure thoughts of a teenage boy, I’d be worried about the lineman on the other side who wants to show why girls don’t belong on a football field. I’m not trying to be chauvinistic, but the fact is no boy wants to be shown up by a girl and that could lead to something ugly. However, if she can run the 40, bench press, and tackle as well as any boy on the team then I say let her play. Then again, this is SEC/Georgia football country and all he has to do is ask “What would Mark Richt do”.