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Posted: July 8, 2011 12:00 a.m.

It'd be nice if we could all just play together

While deep in REM sleep the other night, I had a crazy dream.

I was playing high school fastpitch softball and we were deep in the state playoffs. The other team was all chapped that I was on the team because, after all, I'm a guy and everyone else was female.

Before I could take my cuts, the opposing coach argued vehemently that there was no way his pitcher should have to throw to me. It wasn't fair. After a discussion with both coaches and the umpires, which involved reading through some sort of rulebook, it was determined I could play.

When I awoke, this dream was still fresh on my mind. So I told my wife about it and posed the question of males playing on her volleyball team. She didn't support it. I asked her why girls are allowed to play football and wrestle and she muttered something about Title IX. If girls can play on boys' teams, why can boys play on girls' teams, I thought?

I had no idea what exactly Title IX entails, so I looked it up.

First, Title IX applies only to schools that receive federal money. Not only that, Georgia has its own law that addresses gender discrimination and regardless of what Title IX says, that's the guideline the Georgia Department of Education goes by. According to the Georgia DOE, no athlete should be denied an opportunity to play a sport because of their gender. It goes on to say, if there isn't enough interest, a sport does not have to be offered.

The way I understand everything, girls are allowed to play on boys' teams because there are more male sports than female. I'm not so sure that makes much sense, though.

As it stands in Newton County, there is one more male sport than female in the high schools. Boys have football, baseball and wrestling while girls have softball and volleyball. Every other sport like track, cross country, basketball, tennis and golf has both a boys and girls team. Because we probably won't see a day where enough female athletes embrace playing football and wrestling to constitute forming teams and organizing leagues, it's probably safe to assume there will always be at least one, if not two more male sports than female in high schools and colleges.

Occasionally girls have tried out for and have been selected to football and wrestling teams. Unfortunately, more times than not, when that happens, it's done for the wrong reasons. Unless a female football player can take a hit consistently, which based on human physiology, is far less likely than it is for a male athlete, a girl would only have value as a kicker. And in wrestling, unless a female athlete can compete with the males in her weight class on her own team, she won't get to wrestle in a match.

There are no girls on any of the three county high school football teams, but one girl wrestled for Eastside. Earlier this year, a wrestler in Iowa forfeited his chance at a state championship because he refused to wrestle a girl. While we didn't have an issue at Eastside, the stir caused by the Iowa incident was unfortunate on more than one level. It brought unfair media attention on the female wrestler while forcing the male to make a tough choice.

Athletes challenge Title IX and similar state laws and it's not hard to do. Nobody wants to fight gender discrimination. In reality though, I have as much business playing fast-pitch softball as a woman has playing football. Sports and the rules that govern their competition are developed gender specific.

By no means does that mean there isn't a minority of male athletes that would probably be better served hitting and fielding a softball, on a smaller field versus playing baseball, or there are a handful of female athletes that can consistently take a hit from a 265-pound male defensive lineman. Rather, it means whoever invented wrestling as the competitive sport we know today didn't intend for a boy and a girl to roll around grabbing each other's bodies.

We need laws like Title IX, but they unfortunately have led to the purging of integrity in our society. It used to be, the best would face the best, regardless of anything. As society has evolved, pure competition has taken a backseat to equality. If a school system says girls can wrestle and play football, so be it. Coaches aren't going to rock the boat. But that doesn't mean those girls will ever get a shot at playing. So really, what's the point here? It's like affirmative action for amateur sports.

Maybe I should just go back to sleep.

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