bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: High School baseball team forfeits rather than face a team with a girl player

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I guess I am naive. I tend to believe that adults, by their very nature, should be reasonable people. I manage to be regularly amazed by how often that belief is proven wrong. The world of sports is as susceptible to this as anything else, of course, and this column is usually dedicated to illustrating all kinds of foolish behavior. This week is no exception. On Wednesday night, two high school baseball teams from Arizona were scheduled to play each other in the state championship game for their classification. Instead of playing, however, one of the schools, Our Lady of Sorrows Academy, forfeited the game. Why would they do this, you ask? Because Mesa Preparatory Academy, the other school, has a girl on its team.

Our Lady of Sorrows Academy is a private school that is associated with something called the Society of Saint Pius X, which split off from the Catholic Church about 30 years ago due to difference of opinion about the Vatican II Council reforms from the Sixties. I know little about this group’s beliefs, but apparently one of them is that boys and girls should not play baseball together. The two teams played twice earlier this season, and Paige Sultzbach, who plays second base for Mesa Prep, sat out those games in an attempt to appease the other school’s beliefs. On Wednesday, though, Sultzbach chose to not step aside. It was the championship game, after all, and she had worked hard all season to be there. Instead of letting its team compete for the title it had been striving for, the religious school decided to quit.

OLSA’s actions are just so wrong on a number of levels. First of all, to be so openly chauvinistic shocks me, despite the fact that it’s not as rare as it should be. What exactly are they afraid of? I am not even sure I want an answer to that, as I have little doubt that it would disgust me. The school not only denied its own kids the chance to compete, it denied Mesa Prep the same thing. Sure, they were crowned champions, but anyone who has ever played a sport knows that players want to win it on the field. A forfeit win is just not the same thing as a real victory. Sultzbach should feel insulted and disrespected, and I imagine she does. Honestly, as an intelligent, thinking human being in the 21st century, I feel insulted by this myself. Mesa’s athletic director Amy Arnold was quoted as saying, “I respect their views, but it’s a bit out of the 18th century.” I agree with the latter but not the former. I don’t respect those views at all. Sure, the school and its players have a right to their beliefs, but that sure does not mean that I have to respect them. To the contrary, those beliefs nauseate me, and I know a few others who felt similarly. I was sent this story by several different people who had spotted it this week, as it is the kind of story that evokes a visceral reaction from a lot of people. As a father of two girls, I shudder at the thought that there are still people and organizations out there that would like to set them and all other females back decades to a time when women were regularly treated as if they were less than their male counterparts.

The decision-makers at OLSA should be ashamed of themselves. Any parent who would allow his or her child to attend a school that could make that decision should be similarly ashamed. Paige Sultzbach and her teammates should be applauded for not giving in this time. They never should have had her sit out the other games, and I am glad they did not do so this time.

Bad sports, continued:

2) Guillermo Mota, a pitcher for the San Francisco Giants, has been suspended for 100 games by Major League Baseball after failing a test for performance enhancing drugs for a second time. 100 games may seem like a lot, but I feel this is far too lenient. If you fail a steroids test, get suspended for 50 games, and then fail another, you should be out of the game forever. This isn’t marijuana…this is cheating.

3) Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels was suspended for five games after admitting he intentionally hit Washington Nationals rookie Bryce Harper with a pitch last week. He said he was trying to deliver a message to Harper that he needed to tone down his act. Whether or not you agree with Hamels throwing at Harper, there is no doubt that admitting it to the media was a seriously dumb move.

4) Speaking of Bryce Harper, he made an awfully dumb move of his own later in the week. After escaping injury from that beaning by Hamels five days earlier, Harper was having a rough game against the Cincinnati Reds. He went 0-5 with three strikeouts, prompting him to swing a bat against the wall of the tunnel behind the dugout. The bat bounced back and hit Harper in the face, opening a gash near his eye that required ten stitches. Something tells me Hamels was onto something, as far as Harper needing to calm down a bit.

5) Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, arguably the two best men’s tennis players in the world, are talking about boycotting next year’s Madrid Open if the organizers don’t change the surface by the time the tournament comes around. This year’s tournament, which concluded this week, was played on a surface that was not only bright blue, but was also quite slippery, according to the players.

6) With the whole Bobby Petrino mess still a very recent memory, the University of Arkansas football team was back in the news this week. Three of the team’s players were arrested on Saturday, charged with burglarizing several dorm rooms on campus.

7) Sixteen people were injured in a fire in a Formula One garage on Sunday at the Spanish Grand Prix in Madrid. The race winner, Pastor Maldonado, was the driver for one of the team’s involved in the fire.

8) Boston Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett is in trouble in his home city. After sitting out a start last week due to some kind of injury, Beckett went out and played golf the next day. When questioned about it after getting hit hard in his Thursday night start against Cleveland, Beckett was surly and arrogant, stating that he could do anything he wanted with his precious days off. Way to endear yourselves to the fans who buy the tickets there, Josh.

9) Osi Umenyioria, continued his feud with Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy on Sunday, tweeting a Mother’s Day greeting to McCoy. This started last summer, after McCoy referred to Umenyioria as “soft,” and the defensive end for the New York Giants replied by calling McCoy “Lady Gaga” and referred to him as “she.” Oh, haha, I get it. You’re saying he’s a girl, and that is inherently funny, because, well, you know…girls are so beneath you. Maybe you should go to Our Lady of Sorrows Academy.

Good sports:

1) Josh Hamilton had a rough offseason, which included a partial relapse into his well-documented alcoholism. It does not appear to have impacted his season, however. The Texas Rangers outfielder hit four homeruns in a 10-3 win over the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday. As of Sunday night, Hamilton not only leads the league in homeruns with 18, but he has five more than anyone else does.

2) Manchester City won its first EPL title in 44 years in amazing fashion on Sunday, scoring two goals within four minutes during extra time to beat Queens Park, 3-2.

Bad sports, good sports appears every Monday

Alan Spoll is a software quality assurance director from the suburbs of Philadelphia where he lives with his wonderful wife and children. He has spent his entire life as a passionate fan of the Eagles, Phillies, Sixers, Flyers, and Penn State. Recent Phillies success aside, you will understand his natural negativity. Follow me on Twitter - @DocAlan02
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2 Responses to “Bad sports, good sports: High School baseball team forfeits rather than face a team with a girl player”

  1. The only thing I like about OLSA’s actions is that they apparently didn’t ask Sultzbach to sit out, or ask somebody to keep her out. If they want to put their religious beliefs ahead of sportsmanship, then I am at least glad they owned it.

    Oh and I’m not sure whether you saw the Onion’s take on Cole Hamels, but it was awesome.,28127/

  2. Thanks for the comment, Jason. I can’t say I “like” that about their actions, but I suppose it does show a way that it could have been worse.

    That thing from the Onion is indeed awesome.

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