I made my major contribution to the game of golf more than 30 years ago, when I moved back from Montana to the East Coast. I stopped playing.
The truth is, I was a terrible golfer, and I didn’t want to devote much time and effort to getting better. When I played on Montana’s Rocky Mountain courses, I paid more attention to the scenery than the game itself. I used to hit the golf ball the same way I did to bat in Little League. My idea was that I could run like hell without worrying excessively about where I hit it and then running like hell, which required tracking the ball and getting it off the course before the next sunrise . . (Renting a golf cart never occurred to me.)
The only reason I took up golf in the first place was because in college, I went out with a girl who was a really good golfer. She grew up in a small town in the Great Plains. The golf course there was so primitive that there was no grass in the greens; They were made of sand, which was oiled to keep the dust down. After pouring, you were expected to use a tool to smooth the sand for the next golfer. My girlfriend was still second in her state high school tournament, even though she had few opportunities to practice on real grass courses.
Other golfers would stop and stare, admiring my girlfriend’s swing. At least, that’s what they said they were praising. I didn’t care. She could play better than almost all the men we came across, and regardless of whether it was her swing or anything else that first caught their eye, the audience soon accepted her skills.
I thought the novelty, and conservatism, of young female golfers wore off a long time ago, between my college girlfriend and Michelle Vai. So I was shocked to read that high school athletic officials in Idaho are considering dropping Sierra Hare from the boys’ golf team at Castleford High School.
Junior Harr helped the team win the state championship last season. After winning the girls’ state title a year earlier, she finished seventh overall in the boys’ tournament. Last season there weren’t enough girls turned to golf to allow Castleford to form a team, so Haar’s only option was to play as an individual or join a boys’ team.
Federal law has required schools to provide equal athletic opportunities for boys and girls for the past 40 years. While this does not require schools to offer both sexes a team for each sport, it does put it on schools to find ways to accommodate students who want to play a sport that is offered for their gender. is not done. Typically, this means allowing girls to play with boys when fielding a girls’ team is not practical.
Broward County, Fla. In the U.S., 17-year-old Erin DiMeglio has taken a few photos as quarterback this season for South Plantation High School, a formidable team that includes — and faces — players who are bound for Division I college squads. While she is apparently the first female quarterback to play for a Florida high school, the Associated Press calculates that more than 500 girls have been on the gridiron in other positions.
DiMeglio, a college basketball prospect, is only the team’s third-string quarterback and is likely to see limited action. Obviously, this is a relief to her parents, who have good reason to be concerned about their daughter being sacked by opposing players bigger than their daughter. But Dimeglio enjoys the support and acceptance of his teammates and the enthusiastic support of the team’s fans, who chanted for his coach to cast him in the opening game of the season against rivals Nova. (He did for two ongoing plays.)
If teammates accept girls on boys’ teams, and fans accept them, why do some Idaho sports officials have a problem with it?
It could be chronological sexism, I guess – the type that still doesn’t fully allow whether or not a woman can be allowed to compete athletically with men. The type who can still look at a woman’s performance and look at the woman instead of the performance. Maybe that’s the answer, but I doubt it.
I suspect that the objections come from the wrong definition of “fair”. By this logic, it is not fair that a girl can compete on a boys team in a sport whereas we would not accept the presence of a boy in a girls team.
But what players and the public seem to understand, even if coaches and school officials may not, is that girls don’t get an unfair advantage when they play with boys, while the opposite may not necessarily be true. Nature endowed the boys with generally greater size and greater strength. Most girls make up for these losses with skill, coordination, practice and determination. There’s nothing unfair about Erin DiMeglio playing football with her male classmates, or Sierra Hare playing golf with her.
Maybe someday an odd situation arises in a place like Idaho, where a school has a team of girls interested in golf, but not enough boys. If this happens, and a boy wants to play with a girls’ team, the correct answer might be to say yes. If not, there are alternatives like fielding a combined boys squad from multiple schools.
Harr reports that she, like Dimeglio, is met with approval from her male peers. “The boys on my team treated me as an equal,” she wrote to Idaho school officials, “and if any of my competitors disapproved of my golfing with the boys, they were kind enough to voice their opinion and give me an opinion. Treated me with respect. I only got negative reactions from a few opposing coaches.” (1)
I am reaching a point in my life when I am considering playing golf again with my wife. It would be nice to spend time with him while we chase that little white ball, enjoying the scenery. I leave for Idaho now and then. Someday I might even find myself on the golf course with Sierra Haar.
She seems like a very nice young woman, so I’m sure she’ll be patient with me until I can allow her to play. She knows to anyone that a lot of boys can’t keep up with the girls the course.
1) Yahoo! News, “Girl golfer in Idaho fights to play with boys”