This article was inspired by recent news items
highlighting the accomplishments of women golfers competing against men,
and the growth of all-female classes in math and science. The sports
articles seem to encourage increased competition between men and women,
while the education articles seem to promote separation of the sexes in
the educational environment. I believe the reverse should be true.
The Sports World
In the past I have expressed my belief that sports
are highly overrated in our society. I’m speaking as a coach of high
school golf and other sports. One of my high school golfers was former
Redskins coach Marty Schottenheimer. During my coaching tenure I’ve had
several opportunities to coach female athletics and found the experience
Golf is a wonderful sport. It’s one of the few
sports that can accommodate individuals of different playing abilities.
Parents can participate with their children, and both have an opportunity
to enjoy the challenges of the game at their own ability level. Golfers
play against the course, not their opponents. In tennis and many other
sports, your enjoyment is based on the ability of the other player to
return the ball at a similar skill level. In golf, the length of the
course is adjusted to match your ability. You alone hit your golf ball.
Golf courses have ladies’ tees and senior tees for a reason. Members of
neither of these groups, on average, can hit the ball as far as younger
males. When females are given the handicap of using the shorter tees, they
can compete against males.
Problems can occur when a winner must be determined
using different course standards. Recently, female golfers won a PGA-qualifying
tournament and the Virginia High School Golf Championship using the
ladies’ tees. One must ask, are they the true champions? My daughter
once won the female division of a golf tournament because she was the only
female golfer to show up. She said to me, “Dad, I didn’t beat
anybody,” to which I responded, “Showing up is the first part of any
competitive process; if you don’t show up, you can’t win.” The
female golfers deserve commendations for just “showing up.” But the
bigger questions are why must they play against the boys, and should
different rules apply if girls choose to participate in male-dominated
tournaments? Should the foul line, three-point line, or basket be lowered
so girls can play boys’ basketball? What do you think would happen if
WNBA players faced Shaquille O’Neil or Michael Jordan of the NBA?
In my opinion, we should maintain the
separate-but-equal rule. Suzy Whaley, the female golf pro who won the
men’s qualifier using the ladies’ tees, has the LPGA in which to
display her skills and earn a living. By competing with men, she may get
some publicity but little else. There is no way she’s going to beat
Tiger Woods or most of the other male professionals playing from the same
In high school sports we need to promote more female
sports, not more female participation in traditional male sports. Virginia
has established a girls’ state golf tournament. Should we now let the
boys compete in that tournament? The answer is obviously no! Should boys
be allowed to participate in girls’ softball, basketball, field hockey
and other sports just because a few girls might have the ability to
participate in some male sports? Let’s stop singling out the few females
who can compete at some level with boys and focus more on the value and
joy of watching female sports.
Men and women should have some activities they can do
without the opposite gender intruding. I think some all-male golf clubs
are acceptable. As for the Masters, I believe women should have a presence
in the Club’s membership. The Masters represents something more than a
private club. It’s part of Americana, which includes everyone.
On Academic Separation
A recent trend, or novelty, has surfaced promoting
separate math and science classes for girls, which I strongly oppose.
Unlike the physical sports world, the world of logic takes place in
individually designed environments called brains. In some ways it’s like
having your own individual golf course. You compete against yourself, not
It would be difficult to prove that girls as a group
have less brainpower. In fact, my personal teaching experience in
math-related courses points to just the opposite. Qualitative observations
of female performance in my college research classes showed that women do
as well, if not better, than the male students. Women more openly admit to
perceived math weakness, but in the final analysis they are just as
competent as men.
One of the recent articles on separate math classes
stated that girls are distracted by boys and therefore need a separate
course to meet their full potential. As I recall, there were many girls
and women who distracted me in a number of my educational endeavors. Has
anyone noticed how some of the young women come dressed to school?
Distraction is a double-edged sword and not a valid reason to establish
all-girl math courses. Girls will compete and work with men in many
professions. Separate classes can only expand the myth that females
can’t compete in an analytical world.
Early childhood experiences, rather than gender, may
be a more significant contributing factor in girls liking math-related
activities. Boys’ childhood activities just fit more closely with
science and engineering. Should we encourage girls to participate in more
traditionally male activities during their childhood years? Personally, I
don’t know. One thing I do know is that watching my three-year-old
granddaughter play against boys in a coed soccer match wasn’t fun. I
would have preferred to see her play in an all-girl competition. That boy
wearing #6 and his buddies just dominated the match.
But I believe when she gets a crack at them in some
math class down the road, they’ll know what it feels like to be
dominated. I’m not going to recommend to her parents that they feed her
Wheaties so she can compete with the boys on the soccer field. There are
too many more important areas of life. I’ll recommend she consider being
more like Mother Teresa or Madam Currie than Mia Hamm.
In our January issue we asked our readers to
nominate their best teachers for our teacher honor roll, and the
mail came pouring in! We will publish a few each month until we
have acknowledged all of our fine educators.
Nominator: Katherine Narzynski
Teacher’s Name: Mrs.
School System: WMMS, Greene County
Primary Subject: History
I have learned more than last year. She knows more.
It’s my favorite subject.
Nominator: K. Evaline (Kohn) Crouch
Teacher’s Name: Nancy
School System: Manassas High School
Primary Subject: English
She taught a respect for God — such a word as
“gosh” was an abbreviation for God’s Flesh.
Nominator: Walter Sydnor
Teacher’s Name: Ed
School System: W.T. Woodson, Fairfax Co.
Primary Subject: Auto Mechanics
He has the ability to teach a skill, and the skill to
point you in the right direction in life.