I am compelled to respond to "In sports, don't mix boys, girls" [Editorial, April 26], about Keeling Pilaro, the male Southampton High School varsity field hockey player recently denied the opportunity to play again in 2012.
My daughter is one of several stand-out senior members of this team, and I have had the pleasure of watching Keeling play. Field hockey is a team sport, and to single out a player as being overly skilled diminishes the roles played by teammates. This team made the playoffs two years in a row because of the hard work and dedication of all the team members, not just Keeling Pilaro.
I believe that Section XI, Suffolk County's governing body of high school sports, is grasping at straws to find a reason why this child should not play. All varsity teams have two or three go-to players when it comes time to score. My daughter's role is defense and midfield. Would Keeling be allowed to play if he were a defender as opposed to a player on the front line?
This June, the team is graduating 12 seniors, and I am concerned that we will not be able to recoup the loss of those players, in addition to Keeling. I urge Section XI to rethink its decision and allow him to play next year.
Lisa Ellen Watson, Southampton
Equal is not always fair. There is a fine but important distinction between gender equality and equal opportunity to participate in voluntary activities. The focus on the former misdirects the practical intentions of Title IX legislation, the education amendment that prohibits exclusion on the basis of gender.
In public schools, athletics is really an interscholastic education program in which we teach life lessons through sports. The girls, both on Keeling Pilaro's team and on opposing teams, deserve to participate against other girls. Why? Because boys and girls really are different.
We separate men and women in collegiate, professional and international competitive sports, and even in most youth leagues in most sports, so why not at the high school level? What's with this sense of entitlement that seems to permeate every aspect of our society, and that keeps trying to deny appropriate roles and activities for men and women, and in this instance, adolescent boys and girls?
Today there are scattered instances of apparently successful mixed competition, with a few girls here and there playing mostly on boys football, baseball, golf or bowling teams.
When we see girls on boys wrestling teams, it just doesn't pass the common-sense test. We teach boys not to touch girls in certain places, and then while they are at their most vulnerable, socially and emotionally in adolescence, we tell them, "It's OK now." This has them facing the challenge of their young lives: Wrestle the girl and win, and you're a bully/molester/creep; lose, and you're a wimp. Most boy opponents of female wrestlers choose not to participate in the unwinnable match.
There is a rule that allows a seventh- or eighth-grade student to try out for a high school team, but even that rule, known as selection classification, requires a maturation exam and physical fitness test to determine the appropriate level of play.
New York State education law should reflect common sense and appropriate matching by gender, and get rid of the mixed competition rule as it pertains to boys playing girls' sports, and girls playing inappropriate boys' sports.
Montgomery Granger, Port Jefferson Station
Editor's note: The author is a veteran Suffolk County athletic administrator.