The ultra-conservative attempt to push women out of the public sphere has a new frontier: the Arizona Charter Athletic Association. Our Lady of Sorrows, a school run by a breakaway Catholic sect, has forfeited the league’s high school baseball championship rather than put their team up against a squad that includes a girl named Paige Sultzbach—a team they already played and lost to twice during the regular season.
Our Lady of Sorrows gave a statement to ESPN explaining that the school bans co-ed sports and will not play a co-ed team because “proper boundaries can only be respected with difficulty” under those circumstances. Despite the fact that it takes a lot of imagination to imagine boys and girls getting frisky on the basepaths or across vast swaths of outfield in full view of the public, Sultzbach and her team have been more considerate of Our Lady of Sorrows’ views than they have been of her rights to participate in sports programs under Title IX:
From early on, Paige tried to blend in, her mother said. When the coach referred to the kids as “guys and gals,” Paige spoke up and said that they all wear the same uniform, so the coach should just call them all guys.
Her teammates have stood up for her.
During Mesa Prep’s two previous games with Our Lady of Sorrows, Paige didn’t play out of respect for the opposing team’s beliefs, but that wasn’t going to be an option this time, Pamela said.
“We respected their school rule … but she took it hard,” Pamela said. “She didn’t like it and neither did her teammates. They went out and played the best they could because they wanted to prove a point.”
As depressing as this story is, it’s encouraging that Sultzbach’s teammates have supported her. The reason it’s important to let girls try out for their high school baseball teams, to have women in all arenas in public life, is not just because it’s nice for women. When 15-year-old girls play second base for championship teams, edit magazines and hold high office, sometimes men find that they like having women there. The more boys figure this out, and the more feminism becomes their cause too, the harder it will be for anyone go give credence to the idea that girls don’t belong on baseball fields or anywhere else in the public square.