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Impact of Biden's rule on girls' sports

DEBATE: Does President Biden's new sports ruling put girls' sports at risk?

January 26, 2021 By Michelle Bonsu
It's been less than a week since Joe Biden took office, but the new President is already making waves with some of his policies.

After four years, the United States now has a new president, and not surprisingly, vital changes are already being made across the nation. However, one recent decision enacted by President Joe Biden has people talking - and not necessarily in a positive way.

Last week, Biden signed an executive order that mandated all federal agencies to properly enforce a new ruling set by the United States Supreme Court concerning anti-discrimination against people based on their orientation as well as their gender identity. Specifically, the order requires all institutions to ensure this goes into effect within the next 100 days (as of January 20th).

And what really has people buzzing was the fact that high school and college sports were covered in this mandate, with a reference to Title IX (a federal law that bans discrimination against athletes based on gender) to ensure that schools who do not cater to all athletes (regardless of how they self-identify) will run the risk of losing federal funding.

The issue of transgender people and sports has been a recent hot topic in recent times, especially as more and more young people are becoming comfortable with expressing how they feel they should be identified. While there are some who feel that any student should be able to play on whichever team they choose to based on how they self-identify, there are many who believe that one's biological gender should be the determining factor as it has been for decades.

There is a reason why boys and girls don't usually play on the same sports teams. In fact, for this author, the only co-ed sports at her secondary school were sailing and ultimate Frisbee. More commonly practiced sports such as soccer, basketball, lacrosse, golf, track and field, and swimming had separate boys and girls teams.

Why? Because by the time one gets to secondary school, there's a huge gulf between the athletic abilities for boys and girls. That's not to say that girls are inferior athletes - far from it - but physically, on the average, girls are not as strong as boys, and so to have a 15-year-old girl play on the same lacrosse team as a 15-year-old boy would be a disaster. Just as having girls compete in the same track meets with boys would not be fair to anyone involved. And if one looks at golf, there is a reason why there are different tees set up for men and women. If we really were all the same, there wouldn't be the need for this, or having separate teams for sports like soccer and basketball once kids hit double digits.

In this photo, there are five students competing in a track meet in 2019. Two are transgendered athletes. Can one guess which one blew away the competition and who finished as runners-up?

So, with this in mind, is it really just to have transgendered individuals to take part in girls' sports? Although these people self-identify as female, biologically, they are still male and as such would have an unfair advantage over their teammates and competitors. Yes, transgendered people and their advocates have long campaigned for safe spaces for youngsters to feel comfortable, and allowing them to choose what team they'd feel at ease on has been something they have been pushing for quite some time.

Some have said that one option would be to have a third team to accommodate transgendered youth, but this isn't realistic at most schools as there are not enough people to make up a proper team. Moreover, not all schools have people who identify as transgender and so finding competitors could be quite difficult.

But allowing them to participate alongside biological females means that there will be girls who don't have the chance to make the team. In addition, given that they will pretty much dominate the competition, it can prove to be rather demoralizing for girls who were born as females because the playing field has gotten that much harder.

For example, in track, whereas a certain time would be sufficient to place fifth and earn a spot to the state championship, the addition of one or more transgendered runners to the team would mean that girl would likely be bumped down to seventh and thus will miss out on that opportunity. That means she will also miss out on potential scholarships to the colleges of her choice as her time would not be good enough to qualify for prestigious track meets - which will be crushing to a high school senior who has spent at least four or more years training to get that scholarship to the school of her choice.

To further illustrate this point, the USWNT don't scrimmage against the USMNT when preparing for matches. They have, however, played against youth teams from various clubs; an example of this was in 2017 when the Stars and Stripes took on FC Dallas's under-15 squad ahead of a pair of friendly matches versus Russia. The result of the match? Unfortunately, they lost 5-2, despite many of the kids being about half some of the players' ages.

Mind you, these are professional female athletes, the crème de la crème of their sport, and the USWNT is arguably the best women's football team in the world. But despite their obvious world-class skills, they were no match for a group of secondary school boys. Thus, if these top level players were not able to beat a bunch of lads, then how would one expect a teenage girl to be able to compete against a boy of the same age?

So all in all, while it's understandable that in the 21st century no one should be discriminated against because of their gender identification - or anything else for that matter - it looks like this new ruling could actually do more harm than good for all athletes involved.

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