Institutional sexism is all around us on a daily basis, but if you need another specific example, take a look at this one from the world of high school athletics.
Emily Nash, a junior at Lunenburg High School in Lunenburg, MA, was the technical winner of the recent Central Mass Division 3 Boys’ Golf Tournament. Despite clearly not being a boy, she was allowed to participate, and played from the same tees as the boys. But as it turns out, although a girl can participate, a girl isn’t allowed to be the winner. Nash wasn’t awarded the first place trophy for the tournament, despite the fact that she finished a full four strokes ahead of the closest male competitor—literally dominating the field in her victory.
The reason why is due to the rules of the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA), which states that female players can be entered into the boys golf tournament as “part of a team,” but not as individuals. Which is all well and good, except for the fact that Nash’s high school DOESN’T HAVE a girls golf team. Now she doesn’t get the trophy she won, and she also isn’t allowed a spot in the boys state championship, which will go to the second place finisher.
“I wasn’t aware that if I won I wouldn’t get the title or the trophy,” she told local TV station WPBF. “I feel like it’s a bit unfair.”
Despite Nash clearly keeping a cool head about the situation, the result is more than “a bit” unfair. Multiple news outlets have sprung to her defense, criticizing the outdated-seeming rules. T.J. Auclair, a writer for PGA.com, wrote the following:
“So, let’s get this straight. Nash’s score which was the best in the field by four strokes, was OK to count toward the team effort, but not OK to count individually?”
“And for those wondering, yes, Nash did play from the same tees as the boys, which makes this situation all the more perplexing.”
“It’s 2017. This rule sounds like it was created in 1917.”
To his credit, the second place finisher crowned as the false “winner” by the MIAA didn’t even want to accept the now tainted trophy, and went as far to offer it to Nash. However, she declined to accept it—which probably makes sense, given that it likely had the name of some other guy on it.
“He came over and said he didn’t win the tournament, that I did,” she told WPBF. “It was really nice of him and respectful.”
The only concession in terms of Nash’s actual ability to compete in the sport of golf is that she’ll be eligible to compete in the individual girls’ championship in the spring, according to the MIAA. The question is: Why are female golfers invited to participate as a member of the boys team, if they’re not allowed to take home an accolade as simple as the tournament trophy? What would the harm be of giving Nash the trophy in the first place?
“Female golfers have been welcomed to participate on a boys team in the fall if their school did not sponsor a girls golf team in the spring,” says the MIAA statement. “It has been clear to participants that female golfers playing in the fall boys team tournament are not participating in an individual capacity. The individual tournament opportunity for female golfers takes place during the spring season.”
So she’s allowed to compete as a member of the boy’s team because she doesn’t have a girl’s team to belong to, but heaven forbid she actually excel as a member of that boy’s team, right? Got to make sure they’re not confronted by the possibility of a female being better than them at anything. How will they grow up to become high-functioning misogynistic members of society unless they learn in high school that women’s achievements must be erased at all costs?