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Opinion

There’s No Such Thing as a Girl’s Sport or a Boy’s Sport

pilaro"Anything you can do, I can do better, I can do anything better than you." These famous Irving Berlin lyrics are very applicable outside of the musical, "Annie, Get Your Gun" they were written for.

To that point, women's sports have always struggled to garner the same amount of media coverage as men. Whether its women's tennis, golf, soccer or basketball, female athletes have always played second fiddle to their male counterparts.

What about the rare instances where women have entered male sports and vice versa? These situations are few and far in between, but there is an obvious double standard depending on which sex crosses over into which sport.

Take Keeling Pilaro for example. In 2012, he became the second boy to play field hockey at a varsity level. This is because Pilaro was raised in Ireland where field hockey is predominately a men's sport.

A story from 2013 in Newsday said that when he returned to Long Island, Pilaro was allowed to play on the Southampton High School junior varsity team because of Title IX, a section of the Education Amendments of 1972 that states, in part, "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in...any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance..."

Newsday also said that "In spring 2012, Pilaro was barred from playing after a mixed-competition committee determined he became 'too skilled' to compete against girls. NY's guidelines allow boys to play girls sports as long as there is no adverse effect on the girls."

His family fought and eventually got the decision overturned, but the field hockey standout will not be attending boarding school in VA, where he will no longer compete in the sport he loves.

On the other hand, take Samantha Gordon, a nine-year-old girl from UT who plays little league football. Like Pilaro, she's scary good at the sport she plays.

The only difference is that instead of being banned because she's better than the boys she competes with and against, General Mills put her face on a Wheaties box.

Gordon was asked on ESPN's "SportsCenter," what she liked most about football. She said, "Being the girl out there and scoring on the boys and the boys being like, 'Dangit, I just got beat by a girl!"

Why is Gordon allowed to play a boys' sport and have those around her cheer her on, while Pilaro is prohibited from playing his favorite sport because it is only offered as a girl's sport in the US?

On a professional level, there are not many co-ed sports stars other than Danica Patrick. In 47 career races to date on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series tour, she has one top 10 finish.

Since Patrick was the first woman to lead a lap in both the Indy 500 and the Daytona 500, she's considered a trailblazer, and is rewarded with a fully funded, competitive car to race.

It's great that Title IX affords girls the opportunity to get a start in playing in boys' sports and prove that anything boys can do, they can do better. However, it also needs to afford boys the same opportunity.

PHOTO TAKEN from newsday.com

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