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The GEM Debate: No Boys On The Field? Fair Or Foul?

I have a feeling we’re about to open up a whole can of worms here but that’s never stopped us before, now has it?

Okay before I dive into this I need to tell you that my beloved Darling Casey is a softball player this year! Woot! Some of you may know she also plays volleyball but this is the first year she’s decided to give another sport a try.  Now, you may also know she’s not the most aggressive kid (very, VERY unlike her brother) and she’s still learning the ropes out there on the field.

I say all that to present to you today’s debate. It centers around 13-year-old Keeling Pilaro, a boy who spent some time in Ireland was allowed to play on the field hockey team with the girls at his Long Island school until this year when he got good. Really, really good. Now Keeling is being told he no longer qualifies for the exemption that allowed him to play until this point.

The district says its hands are tied, that it’s really a matter of state law. See there’s an education provision that does allow school to ban boys from playing on girls teams if allowing them, “would have a significant adverse effect” on fellow female teammates. Though Keeling is under 5 feet tall and weigh less than a hundred pounds, it’s his skill level that officials say will create an unfair advantage. The ruling is being examined but if Keeling is not allowed back on the team, his mother says she’ll take officials to court.

When I first heard this story, I thought, “That’s ridiculous; let the boy play” but honestly I’m just not so sure now.

Back to Casey and softball for a moment (I know, I know, they’re different sports).  I can say with a great degree of certainty, having a boy play on the team with her (especially if his skills were head and shoulders above all others) would suck the joy right out of the experience for her and she’d probably quit before she even got started.

So while I feel for young Keeling, I have to say I side with the school district on this one.

What about you what do you think? Should Keeling be allowed, despite his skill level, be allowed to play on the same team as the girls? Is this an unfair ruling to him? Or is allowing him to play, even though he’s so much better than the others, unfair to the girls? Lemme hear ya!

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  1. Ella

    May 15, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    Ok. I stopped reading around the part where he is being blacklisted due to his skill level. I was crafting my response in the restroom (multitasking!) thinking that they wouldn’t penalize a slow kid by kicking them off the team, but they do that all the time during tryouts, etc. So I say it’s fair. The flip side is that there were really bad players that also didn’t make their team in high school. One would be Michael Jordan. So if this kid is that good at less than five feet tall AND they have to kick him off because the game isn’t fun for the girls??? This little boy needs to just sit home and start designing his shoe line because he is going to be OKAY!

    p.s. it isn’t fair. it just happens at the other end of the spectrum so i see it being uniform in execution. (squinting my eyes trying to make sure that makes sense)

  2. Tiffany T

    June 4, 2012 at 9:47 pm

    Honestly, if they let him play on the team previously, it’s kind of their own fault that he’s so good, isn’t it? Plus, did they tell him from the get-go that if he good “too good” that he couldn’t play on the girls’ team anymore? I doubt it. I say to let him play. Don’t give him all of the field time or let him significantly play more than others, but if they were okay with him while he was mediocre, they should be okay with him now.

    Are HS team sports more about the team or the individual? That’s the question. We see teams that have kids with handicaps who get to play because they can’t exclude them, as long as they are “good enough”. Seems like the same scenario in reverse. If they let him play & it ends up being a disruption to the team or the game in general, then at least they gave him a shot.

    And honestly, if this was MY kid, I’d be taking it up with higher authorities, too.

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Combing the aisles at Target in search of the best deal on Cheerios, it hit Rene Syler like the stench of a dirty diaper on a hot summer’s day. Not only is perfection overrated its utterly impossible! Suddenly empowered, she figuratively donned her cape, scooped up another taco kit for dinner and Good Enough Mother was born.

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