The coronavirus outbreak has impacted us all. Many people are facing financial hardships, and frightening health issues. Others are experiencing more minor challenges, such as canceled events, changing travel plans, and empty grocery store shelves.
The coronavirus outbreak has also canceled many sporting events, including both the men’s and women’s highly anticipated NCAA college basketball tournaments. The NCAA cancelled not only “March Madness”, but all remaining winter and spring championships. Even the 2020 Summer Olympics were postponed until next year.
This was devastating for athletes at all levels of competition. Elite athletes received the news that they would have to keep training another year before representing their countries at the Olympic Games. College and high school seniors saw their dreams and goals for their final season dashed overnight.
For many athletes, this was disheartening. After all, they might not receive another opportunity to compete at their current level.
But the reality is that even when the threat of the coronavirus is removed, another threat to athletic competition still remains.
That is, if you are a female athlete.
Across the country, unfair policies are threatening high school women’s athletics. Thankfully, some state legislatures are taking action.
Months before the COVID-19 pandemic ended high school and college seniors’ athletic careers, Connecticut track star Chelsea Mitchell already knew she probably wouldn’t have fair opportunities to win more state championships.
Chelsea is a superstar track athlete with six state championships in individual track events under her belt. And she should have several more.
Chelsea was the fastest girl in several state championships races last year, but she was denied these titles because the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) permits males who identify as female to compete in women’s sports.
Due to that policy, two male athletes have swept 15 state championship titles in women’s track and field—titles that were previously held by nine different girls.
Chelsea knew that winning a championship in her senior year would be difficult if she had to compete against these male athletes. Because science and common sense tell us that when comparably fit and trained males compete against females, males will dominate. This isn’t because men train harder than women, but because they have a different physiological makeup that gives them an unfair advantage over women in sports.
So, Chelsea and two other female athletes—Selina Soule and Alanna Smith—filed a lawsuit to challenge CIAC’s unfair policy. But Selina, Chelsea, and Alanna are far from alone.
States Are Taking Action
The CIAC policy isn’t an anomaly. Across the country, other athletic organizations have enacted similar policies that might destroy women’s sports. Men have undeniable physical advantages over comparably fit and trained women in athletics—including greater bone density, lung capacity, and muscle mass.
If males are permitted to compete in women’s athletics, there won’t be men’s sports and women’s sports—there will be men’s sports and co-ed sports. That will destroy women and girls’ opportunities to compete and win on a level playing field.
Thankfully, several state lawmakers are writing legislation that could help save women’s sports.
In Arizona, HB 2706 passed the Arizona House of Representatives on March 3. The bill will now go to the state Senate for a vote.
In Idaho, a similar bill (HB500) passed the Idaho House of Representatives. It is now waiting to be signed into law by Governor Brad Little.
In Louisiana, bills have been introduced in both the House (HB466) and the Senate (SB172).
In Ohio, a bill (HB527) has been introduced in the state legislature.
These are just some of the many admirable state efforts to help protect women’s sports. But sadly, the media is distorting these actions.
It’s important to be clear: These bills don’t “block” anyone from participating in athletics.
Rather, they ensure that all individuals participate in sports consistent with their biological sex.
This provides a level playing field for everyone—women and girls especially. Because if men participate in women’s athletics, women’s athletics will cease to exist.
We’ve already seen this starting to happen in Connecticut. Girls like Selina, Chelsea, and Alanna are being denied opportunities to compete and win in high school track and field.
In recent weeks, we’ve seen what life is like without any opportunities for high school and college athletes to compete for championships. That could remain a reality for female athletes if male athletes are permitted to compete against them. And we cannot allow that to happen.