In Indiana, the state high school athletic association is choosing not to fight a lawsuit brought on a behalf of a Bloomington high school girl who would rather play baseball with the boys than softball with her fellow females. From The Associated Press (via The Indianapolis Star):
Under [Indiana State High School Athletic Association] rules, girls may participate on boys’ teams in baseball, basketball, football, soccer and wrestling when a comparable girls program does not exist at the school. But following the lawsuit filed against the IHSAA in November on behalf of a Bloomington South freshman, the association’s board recently voted 18-9 to let girls try out for baseball even if their school has a softball team.
“Our odds are against us winning it in court,” [IHSAA Commissioner Blake] Ress told The Bloomington Herald Times. “It’s not impossible, but as we researched it, more states are doing this and when there have been court issues, more often they said they could (play) than they couldn’t.”
Ress said he believed that baseball and softball were comparable sports because each involves a bat and a ball, similar positions and baselines on the diamond, and six outs in an inning. But the fields have different dimensions and use different-sized balls.
Tae Sture of Fishers, one of the attorneys representing the girl, said they would wait for the rule to be formally adopted before deciding whether to drop the lawsuit.
Ress said the rule was now in effect but still had to be formally reaffirmed by the board at the IHSAA’s meeting in May.
Now for sale in the Bloomington High School South bookstore, now that it no longer by the baseball field.
I’ve coached co-ed basketball for two years, and somehow boys and girls playing together does not seem like a big deal. The only problem I’ve run into is girl-shy fifth- and sixth-grade boys and boy-shy fifth- and sixth-grade girls a little queasy about bodying up an opponent of the opposite sex on defense.
There is no information about the particular girl behind the lawsuit, but if she thinks she can make the baseball team, then go for it. What about boys who want to try out for girls teams, you say? Presumably the door is open for a boy to try out for a girls’ volleyball team (no boys volleyball in Indiana). But the serious athletes are already competing at the club level, and the not-so-serious ones are probably more likely to stick to intramural sports rather than play on an opposite-sex team. Maybe there’s something sinister explaining why there aren’t a flood of athletes following in this girl’s footsteps (and given the reader responses to the Star’s posting of the story, you can figure out what it is), but I think a lot of athletes would just rather play with and against their own gender, for social as well as athletic reasons.