By Izzy Labbe
“This is not a contact sport; it shouldn’t be an issue. It wasn’t that they were afraid they were going to hurt or injure her, it’s that (they believe) a girl’s place is not on a field.” ~ Pamela Sultzbach
Paige Sultzbach is a strong, athletic 15-year-old student at Mesa Prep, a school in Phoenix, Arizona. Paige played softball and volleyball before she came to Mesa Prep, which doesn’t have a softball team. Determined to play anyway, Paige joined the boy’s baseball team.
Paige is a well respected teammate, who is loved and supported by her coach, her friends, and her fellow teammates. So, naturally, the second base player was excited to go onto the Championship Games against Our Lady of Sorrows, a Catholic school in Phoenix. That is, until the team forfeited because they didn’t want to play against a girl. The worst part about this story, in my opinion, is that this didn’t happen in the mid 1800s. This happened on last week. In the 21st century.
Our Lady of Sorrows declined to comment to ESPN’s coverage of the story, but did say that the forfeit was “consistent with a policy prohibiting co-ed sports”. Prohibiting co-ed sports? That’s when I got really worked up.
I can understand how some of the boys might feel nudgy around Paige Sultzbach on the field. After all, she might have cooties. Who knows? And if we start letting girls play baseball, pretty soon they’re going to want everyone to abide by the Title IX law — the one that states that gender equality in education programs and sports is needed. Then what would we do?!
But silliness aside, I seriously think this all comes down to an old history and ancient customs that no one has bothered to change. This does not mean that Catholics are evil, or that they always practice ancient rules of thumb. My little brother attends a Catholic school for Pre-Kindergarten, and I can assure you, they have moved into the present while still honoring their Catholicism. Our Lady of Sorrows has no excuse as to why they won’t allow a girl to play on their field. Saying that it’s against their beliefs (which they did), is no more of an excuse to stop a girl from playing baseball than a Jewish family not wanting someone to eat pork beside them in a restaurant.
Paige Sultzbach doesn’t want them to give up their religion, or even give her special treatment for being a girl. She just wants to play baseball. And in a world where even the Championship Game for two schools in Arizona can be carved down into a political argument, it doesn’t look good for her. It’s not fair that she wasn’t allowed to play that game, and it’s not fair that she’s had to sit in the dugout so many times before because she’s not a boy.
Paige Sultzbach should have respect every time she steps foot on a field. She should get the same treatment as a male player. It’s not about gender. It’s not about her getting hurt. It’s not about how well she can play in relation to a boy. It’s about baseball. That’s it.