Many a girl’s dream of playing with the boys in rough-and-tumble contact sports has been stalled by a claim that she just wasn’t good enough (whether true or not).
But 12-year-old Madison Baxter faced a much different reason for being disqualified from playing on the defensive line for her middle school, Strong Rock Christian, a private school in Locust Grove, Ga. Baxter’s story gained national attention last month after an official reportedly claimed her participation would prove too distracting for the boys on the team.
She has done very well, her mother, Cassy Blythe, told the Atlanta Journal Constitution. And although her coaches and principal have supported her participation on the team, Blythe said, the school’s CEO has had a different reaction.
According to Blythe, the CEO told her that he believed girls shouldn’t play on boys’ teams, and was concerned about the boys having impure thoughts about the female athlete. He also told Blythe that Baxter may not be able to handle “locker room talk,” despite there being separate rooms for girls and boys.
“He also quoted the Bible by saying that men and women are created equal but different and therefore should not be allowed to play the same sports,” Blythe said.
A Facebook campaign was launched to convince the CEO to reconsider his decision barring Baxter from playing next season.
Sadly, Baxter’s story isn’t unique.
Last year, a 7-year-old in Allen, Texas, was told she couldn’t continue on the little league baseball team because “she’s a girl,” according to Dallas-Fort Worth Fox affiliate, KDFW.
Anna Kimball and her brother, Carson, played together on the team. Despite Anna being better than Carson, the coach decided to cut Anna because, according to Yahoo! Sports’ Prep Rally blog, he wanted a “more competitive” league.
There was also this incident from 2011 where a male wrestler in Iowa forfeited his first-round state tournament match because his opponent was a female.
And in a twist, a boy in New York was told he couldn’t play on the girl’s field hockey team, but, after a hearing, the high school sports governing body of Suffolk County reversed its decision and allowed him to continue playing with the girls.
Of course, not all girls are discouraged from playing “boys’ sports” just because, well, they’re girls.
These two girls have proven to be strong role models for younger girls interested in playing football, and aren’t afraid to break the stereotype that certain sports are “boys only.”
A version of this news article first appeared in the Schooled in Sports blog.