What would you do if the sport you loved to compete in was played solely by members of the opposite sex in the new country you moved to?
That's the unfortunate situation 13-year-old Keeling Pilaro had to deal with when he moved from Ireland - a traditional field hockey hotspot for both genders - to the United States, where the sport is played almost exclusively by girls.
Most would have probably just taken up other sports, but Pilaro opened a can of worms by fighting for permission to compete on the Southampton girls' field hockey team.
Competing against girls two to three years his elder, he finished 11th in points on Long Island, and was named to the all-conference team.
Even though Pilaro stood just 4-foot-6 and weighed in at 82 pounds - far tinier than most of the girls on the opposing teams - Suffolk County's governing body briefly told Pilaro and his family that he wouldn't be able to play on the team in the season ahead because he's too good.
Mixing Boys And Girls In Sports
They would eventually overturn their decision after much backlash from the community, but Pilaro will have to go through the same process after the 2012-13 season to continue his hopes of playing field hockey at Southampton.
We've seen plenty of instances in the past where girls would try out and compete for boys football and wrestling teams, but it is far more rare for a boy to attempt to try out for a girls team.
Perhaps its a bit of a social taboo, as some classmates might make fun of a boys decision to compete on a girls team.
Is It Wrong For A Boy To Compete On A High School Girls' Team?
Some turned to Title IX, the legislation that helped provide female student athletes the same opportunities available to male ones by requiring that the selection of sports and levels of competition effectively accommodate the interests and abilities of members of both sexes, as a reason to let Pilaro return to the field with the girls.
The way I see it, that legislation doesn't mean that every boy or girl can compete on any team the other sex does, but simply that they have equal opportunity to have access to quality athletics.
I believe these instances should be evaluated on a case by case basis. It seems like a nice story of determination when you have a girl competing on a football or wrestling team, but something just strikes me as not cool to have a boy dominating in a girls sport.
Gender equality is great, but it's a fact of life that girls and boys have different body types. The only way to allow a boy to compete in girls' high school sports would be to constantly monitor height and weight, with the hopes of keeping a level playing field.
As long as Pilaro and other boys who want to compete in girls sports remain at or below the height and weight of girls on opposing teams, I don't see anything wrong with them competing on the same field.
Should boys be allowed to compete on girls' high school sports teams? Let me know in the comments.
Eric Holden has been covering youth league and high school sports since 2009. Follow him on Twitter @ericholden.
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