Officials Attempting to Kick Female Golfer Off Her All-Male High School Team… Because Reasons
For great justice
16-year-old Sierra Harr was given some bad news last year: despite having played on state title-winning girls golf team at her high school her freshman year, in her sophomore year there were not enough players to field a team. The girl’s golf team was being disbanded, and she was given a choice of competing in tournaments as an individual or moving to another school entirely. But the third-ranked female golfer of her age in Idaho felt that a team environment was too important a part of the high school golf, and applied to be allowed to play as part of they boys team.
This is the point where you might assume that the title of this post becomes relevant. But you’d be wrong.
The Idaho High School Activities Association granted her permission to play on the team so long as she qualified every week, and Harr (and her 2.2 handicap) helped the team to win another state championship. She says:
The boys on my team treated me as an equal, and if any of my competitors disapproved of my golfing with the boys, they were gracious enough to keep their opinions to themselves and treated me with respect. The only negative reactions I received were from a few opposing coaches.
Those opposing coaches, it would appear, are now lobbying to keep her off the team. Because… it’s unfair that she can also compete in girls individual tournaments? Association President Greg Bailey puts it another way:
There aren’t any villains here. We try to look at things from a fairness perspective, fairness for that individual athlete as well as fairness for the other athletes involved. The question is, is she bumping out a boy? And if she wins in the competition, did she bump out a boy in the other school district?
I think it’s safe to assume that Bailey would not feel the need to ask this question if Harr was a boy. After all, being “bumped” out of a competition by a competitor that performs better than you did is actually one of the central defining qualities of a competition. Under Title IX, schools are required to provide female athletes equal access and equal opportunity to pursue the experiences that are afforded male athletes. Dennie Smyer, golf coach at Declo High School, part of Castleford’s league, agrees with Harr’s stance that playing individually is a different experience from playing on a team, and that her place, for now, is with the boys’ team. Harr isn’t the only female high school age golfer in the country who’s playing on the boy’s team because her school cannot field a full girls’ team.
The IHSAA told the Associated Press that it’s looking to craft better rules that would allow for Harr (and further female golfers who do not have a girls’ team at their school) to stay on her team, while “preserving fairness for others.”
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