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Arizona team forfeits state title due to opponent having a girl player

By Matt Snyder | Baseball Writer
A girl named Paige Sultzbach is a member of the varsity baseball team for Mesa Preparatory Academy in Arizona. Her team is now the state champion of the Arizona Charter Athletic Association, due to a forfeit by Our Lady of Sorrows. The forfeit is because Our Lady of Sorrows refused to play a team that had a girl on the field.

Evidently, Our Lady of Sorrows has a school rule against boys competing against girls -- stemming from very devout religious beliefs. The two teams played twice during the regular season -- with Mesa Prep winning both -- because Sultzbach sat out. In the state championship, Mesa Prep didn't want to take the chance of her sitting out, considering they only have 11 players. Understandable, but it also caused Our Lady of Sorrows to back out of the game, due to their long-standing rule.

The full story is from the Arizona Republic, and if you want every minute detail, you better go read it. I'm not going to sit here and regurgitate it. Instead, I'm going to give my opinion. And you all will have a chance to give yours in the comments section.

My opinion: What a farce.

Sultzbach wasn't trying to be some trailblazer or make a name for herself in a dog-and-pony show. I'd be against that, but, according to the story, this is her freshman year, and she only tried out for her high school baseball team because the school doesn't have a softball team. She made it on her own merit. When her coach would say things like "guys and gals," she insisted that he just say "guys" and not give her special treatment.

And no, "sniveling liberal" comments don't apply. Requiring every team to have a certain number of girls -- if any -- would be ridiculous. It's boys baseball. Putting her on the team because the coach felt sorry for her and was scared to cut a girl would be a problem -- a huge one. But isn't America supposed to be a meritocracy? If she's good enough to make the team on her own merit, regardless of gender, good for her.

This isn't all about her, either. In fact, my immediate thoughts went straight to the players on both teams, especially Our Lady of Sorrows. For those of us who played high school baseball, put yourself back in your 18-year-old shoes. What if you looked across the field and saw a female on the other team? Would your reaction be: "Oh, we can't play them. Let's go home right now!" C'mon. I'm pretty sure about 99.9 percent of us would've just gone out to get the victory, much like we wanted to do every time out. And these kids got to their state championship with the chance to avenge two regular-season losses, only to have that shot taken away.

Now, could Mesa Prep have sat Sultzbach out again? Of course, but that way you are depriving one kid of a great experience. If the teams played, zero kids would have been deprived.

Instead, a group of adults has decided to take a great experience away from two full teams of kids in order to preach. They have every right to do that this time and to continue to do it in the future should they choose. It's their school and their religion. But just because they can doesn't mean they should. They could have easily suspended the rule for one game and then revisited everything afterward instead of digging their heels in. It shouldn't be a matter of religion or politics, it should be a matter of kids. Cue everyone making this about religion and/or politics ... now.

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