From the “What Year is It?” file. ESPN reports that a high school baseball team in Arizona forfeited a championship game rather than face a team with a female player:
Instead of playing in a championship baseball game, Paige Sultzbach and her team won’t even make it to the dugout.
A Phoenix school that was scheduled to play the 15-year-old Mesa girl and her male teammates forfeited the game rather than face a female player.
Our Lady of Sorrows bowed out of Thursday night’s game against Mesa Preparatory Academy in the Arizona Charter Athletic Association championship. . . .
Paige, who plays second base at Mesa Prep, had to sit out two previous games against Our Lady of Sorrows out of respect for its beliefs. But having her miss the championship was not an option for Mesa Prep.
Officials at Our Lady of Sorrows declined comment. In a written statement Thursday, the school said the decision to forfeit was consistent with a policy prohibiting co-ed sports.
The statement also said the school teaches boys respect by not placing girls in athletic competition, where “proper boundaries can only be respected with difficulty.”
Our Lady of Sorrows is run by the U.S. branch of the Society of Saint Pius X. The group represents conservative, traditional priests who broke from the Catholic Church in the 1980s.
In junior high, Paige played softball and volleyball. Because Mesa Prep does not have a girls softball team, she tried out for the boys baseball team and received support from her coach and her fellow teammates.
Both schools play in the seven-team 1A division of the ACAA. Our Lady of Sorrows won the Western Division and Mesa Prep won the Eastern Division with an undefeated season.
Does God care about high school baseball? When religious expression, positive or negative, appears in athletics, secular and religious critics often retort that “God doesn’t care about sports games.” Sports are entertaining. Playing sports is a good way to learn values like teamwork, leadership, and perseverance. It also encourages better treatment of our bodies. People spend a lot of time on sports. Some dedicate their professional life to it in some fashion. It seems at least possible that God cares about sports.
What about women in sports? Our (secular) society has encouraged female athletics as a meaningful part of gender equality. The idea that “not placing girls in athletic competition” actually “teaches boys respect” for girls appears diametrically opposed to society’s prevailing view. It also is at least somewhat out of step with the Bible, which in many ways takes a comparatively progressive stance on gender.
What time is it? When I start tending toward scriptural interpretation here, it probably is time to wrap up the post. It also probably is really stinky to have your school’s administrators forfeit the championship game and spoil your undefeated season for you.