Due to what one coach calls an "antiquated, idiotic, et cetera, et cetera Catholic League rule," the Archdiocese of Philadelphia will not allow a teenage girl accomplished in jiujitsu compete for her school's varsity boys' wrestling squad because of concerns about "various levels and types of full body contact," according to a Philadelphia Inquirer story.
Philadelphia's Archbishop Ryan High will not play a part in junior Amanda Leve pursuing her dream of becoming a professional MMA fighter, as the private Catholic school has reportedly barred the 17-year-old from participating on its fledgling wrestling program.
"It angers me that I'm being discriminated against because I'm a girl and I can't wrestle," Leve told the Inquirer. "I enjoy jiujitsu. Wrestling could help my jiujitsu and could help me when I want to fight in mixed martial arts and hopefully get to the UFC."
Leve has practiced Brazilian jiujitsu since age 11 and regularly competes against boys across the country as a blue belt in the 150-160-pound weight class, the Inquirer said.
While multiple local high school wrestling teams have recently featured girls, the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association leaves any decision allowing girls to participate in boys' sports entirely up to the individual school. And the Archdiocese of Philadelphia not only prohibits girls from competing against boys, the Catholic school district also reportedly bans its males from wrestling females on opposing teams.
"All school academic, athletic, social, and community service programs serve to provide for intellectual growth and proper Catholic human formation," Archdiocese of Philadelphia spokesman Ken Gavin told the paper. "This involves a respect for the differences between females and males. To allow for coeducational participation in wrestling, which involves various levels and types of full body contact, does not meet this standard of respect."
Archbishop Wood coach Vic Stanley, a member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, called the archdiocese to the mat. He's seen a thing or two in 40-plus years of high school wrestling, but last year presented a new challenge when one of his grapplers was forced to forfeit a tournament semifinal because the opponent was a girl. Stanley perfectly summed up the case for allowing Leve to wrestle in an interview with the Inquirer.
I do not think that it is a good idea for girls to be involved in wrestling with boys. I think it is a no-win situation for the boy, because if he wins, oh, you wrestled a girl; if he loses, oh my God.
Plus, think about it. You were taught from the time you were little that there were certain parts of a girl's body that you don't touch without permission. And then suddenly you're out there wrestling. What the hell do you do?
Am I for girls wrestling? I'm for girls having the opportunity to wrestle. I think there should be girls' teams. But if there aren't girls' teams, then it's not fair to penalize my kids."
Dear Archdiocese of Philadelphia: When a 73-year-old coach is calling your policy "antiquated," it's probably time to rethink your stance.
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