When Boys Win at Girls’ Sports

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The New York Times reports here today on the success of boys who compete on high school girls’ swim teams in Massachusetts, if their school lacks a boys’ swim team.  Here is an excerpt:

[R]oughly two dozen boys [are] competing on girls teams in Massachusetts because their schools do not have boys swimming programs. They are able to do so because of the open access amendment to the state constitution, which was voted into law in the 1970s and mandates that boys and girls must be afforded equal access to athletics.

Boys have been members of girls swim teams since the 1980s, but until recently they were mostly a sideshow. It has only been in the last year or two that boys have swum well enough to draw attention — and people’s ire. The epicenter of the debate is the 50-yard freestyle, an event in which strength can trump talent or technique.

At the Division I state championships on Saturday at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, there are eight boys in the 28-swimmer field in the 50 freestyle. Although Norwood’s Higgins was ruled academically ineligible Friday and will not compete at the state meet, two of the top four seeds in the 50 freestyle are boys, giving rise to the possibility that a boy could be the girls state champion.

The full story is available here.  Apparently the body that governs Massachusetts high school athletics will meet after the season ends, and one of the agenda items is how to treat a boy’s record-setting time in a girls’ event.

The NYT article also mentions that “[s]ome schools in the winter offer coed swimming, where boys and girls compete side-by-side in the dual meets and then separately in the post-season.”

-Bridget Crawford

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