‘Boys swimming on girls’ teams find success – then draw jeers’

That is the Nov. 19 headline in the New York Times.

It tells of the Massachusetts South Division’s fall swimming and diving championships for girls – whose record in the 50-yard freestyle was broken by the winner: Will Higgins.

Will is not for Wilma, because Will is a boy.

So what is a boy doing competing in a championship race for girls? Will’s Norwood High School athletic director, Brian Mcdonough, while congratulating Will Higgins, was asked about Will competing in a girl’s swimming contest.

He replied: “I didn’t want to get into that.”

Will Higgins is a high-school senior who is among “roughly two dozen boys competing on girls teams in Massachusetts – because their schools do not have boys swimming programs. The boys are able to disregard this one-gender-only rule because of the open access amendment to the Massachusetts Constitution. That amendment was voted into law in the 1970s. It mandates that boys and girls must be afforded equal access to athletics.”

The Times report has no explanation of why Norwood High has a girls swimming team – but no boys swimming team. And what, pray tell, will happen if this national publicity for a girls team male winner results in attracting so many other males to this female team that the males eventually replace all the females?

The Times goes on to quote Sarah Hooper, a senior at Needham High, who is the fourth-fastest female entrant and who finds the situation difficult to swallow.

“It’s really frustrating to see how athletic directors and school administrators aren’t doing anything,” she said. “They really aren’t advocating for us. I understand there isn’t an opportunity for these boys, but it infuriates me that they can’t combine two schools’ boys to create one team or have them compete in separate meets. The way it is now, the boys are taking recognition away from girls who’ve worked hard and deserve it.”

“Cooler heads are not found in the bleachers. At the Bay State conference meet earlier this month, Hooper’s father, Eric, lost his composure after watching her get beaten by boys. While waiting for her after the race, he said to her male competitors, ‘Good job for beating the girls.’

“Eric Hooper was reprimanded by Needham High administrators, who told him not to attend the sectional meet. But he will be in the stands at the Zesiger Sports and Fitness Center on M.I.T’s campus to watch his daughter compete in the 50 and 100 freestyle events.

“‘It was wrong of me to say what I did,’ Hooper said. ‘I was just frustrated, basically, because I feel it is totally inappropriate for boys who are bigger and stronger to be competing against girls.’

“Over the years, there have been girls wrestling on boys teams or playing football or ice hockey. Boys have been on field hockey teams and girls have competed alongside boys in golf.

“But in wrestling, boys and girls of the same weight compete against each other.”

And let me ask the question: How on earth can the referees in this co-ed wrestling be certain that none of the male wrestlers’ clutching, grasping, holding and seizing of their female opponents has sexual intent at all?

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