Last week the Our Lady of Sorrows high school in Phoenix forfeited the Arizona Charter Athletic Association’s baseball championship game against Mesa Preparatory Academy, because Mesa Prep’s second baseman is a Paige Sultzbach, who just happens to be a girl. They cited their policy prohibiting co-ed sports. In a statement to Fox News, Our Lady of Sorrows stated that they believe in “teaching our boys to treat ladies with deference, we choose not to place them in an athletic competition where proper boundaries can only be respected with difficulty.” Paige Sultzbach tried out for the baseball team because there isn’t a softball team at Mesa Prep. She not only made the baseball team, but actually beat out boys for playing time at second base.
My first thought was, “What year is it? Aren’t we past all this?” The 40th anniversary of Title IX is coming up in about a month and Our Lady of Sorrows’ decision is an unfortunate reminder that discrimination still exists. I feel bad for Paige and all of her teammates, because they lost out on the opportunity to prove that gender doesn’t matter — if you are capable and prove it, then isn’t that enough? They deserved the chance to finish their undefeated season with a legitimate win for the championship.
I wonder what this is teaching all of the boys and girls involved and those that are reading about it in the news? As these children grow up and prepare for the rest of their life, they will face environments where men and women work side by side each day. Isn’t it better to teach them as early as possible to exist and work as a team while respecting each other? Women struggle for equality in the workplace and in life already and we don’t need a school, let alone a Catholic one, reinforcing these archaic views. This decision by a school that claims to follow the teachings of Catholicism seems incongruous and inconsistent with the letter and message sent by Pope John Paul II to women of the world on June 29, 1995. In the letter posted on the Vatican’s web site, Pope John Paul II states:
“…There is an urgent need to achieve real equality in every area: equal pay for equal work, protection for working mothers, fairness in career advancements, equality of spouses with regard to family rights and the recognition of everything that is part of the rights and duties of citizens in a democratic State. This is a matter of justice but also of necessity.”
My mom instilled in me that my sister and I could do anything we wanted regardless of our gender. We are strong women who are now raising four boys. Our boys are respectful and loving and consider women as their equal, not the lesser sex. If only everyone saw it that way.