Thursday, March 05, 2009

NY Times on Girls in Baseball

The New York Times ran a story earlier this week about girls who aspire to play high school baseball. The article points out that even for girls who have the skills and strength to qualify for the boys' team, they often face an even greater obstacle in the assumption, rooted in stereotypes, that baseball is not a girls' sport. The positioning of softball as the "equivalent" girls sport contributes to this belief, which is rejected by female ballplayers like Marti Sementelli, a sophomore pitcher in Burbank CA. She told the NY Time assuming that baseball and softball are the same because they are both played with bats and balls "i[s] like saying Ping-Pong and tennis are the same sport. ”

The numbers of female high school baseball players is low, just over 1000 last year, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations. Girls are either steered into softball or prohibited outright from trying out baseball when a softball team is offered, as is the case in at least one state -- Massachusetts. Yet, associations in Indiana (most recently) and Nebraska have dropped similar bans out of concern for their likely illegality. Title IX requires schools to allow girls try out for a boys team if the sport is not a contact sport and if there is not a girls team in that same sport. In light of this rule, the commissioner of the Indiana State Athletic Association told the Times he was advised that his odds of successfully defending a prohibition on girls in baseball were "zero to 50/50."