Phoenix school forfeits game instead of facing female player
By The Associated Press
PHOENIX (AP) -
Instead of playing in a championship baseball game, Paige Sultzbach and her team won't even make it to the dugout.
A Phoenix school that was
scheduled to play the 15-year-old Mesa girl and her male teammates
forfeited the game rather than face a female player.
Our Lady of Sorrows bowed
out of Thursday night's game against Mesa Preparatory Academy in the
Arizona Charter Athletic Association championship. The game had been
scheduled at Phoenix College.
Paige, who plays second
base at Mesa Prep, had to sit out two previous games against Our Lady of
Sorrows out of respect for its beliefs. But having her miss the
championship was not an option for Mesa Prep.
Paige's mother, Pamela
Sultzbach, told The Arizona Republic, which first reported the story,
the team found out about the forfeit Wednesday.
"This is not a contact
sport, it shouldn't be an issue," Pamela Sultzbach said. "It wasn't that
they were afraid they were going to hurt or injure her, it's that (they
believe) a girl's place is not on a field."
Officials at Our Lady of
Sorrows declined comment. In a written statement Thursday, the school
said the decision to forfeit was consistent with a policy prohibiting
The statement also said the
school teaches boys respect by not placing girls in athletic
competition, where "proper boundaries can only be respected with
Our Lady of Sorrows is run
by the U.S. branch of the Society of Saint Pius X. The group represents
conservative, traditional priests who broke from the Catholic Church in
In junior high, Paige
played softball and volleyball. Because Mesa Prep does not have a girls
softball team, she tried out for the boys baseball team and received
support from her coach and her fellow teammates.
Lisa Maatz, director of
public policy at the American Association of University Women, said the
situation is a clear example of why Title IX law, which enforces gender equality in education programs including sports, is needed.
"The very idea that such
stereotypes are so strong, they'd actually forfeit a game simply because
a girl was on the field. That's ridiculous," Maatz said. "Does she have
senior director of advocacy for the Women's Sports Foundation, said the
school's decision to forfeit doesn't aid its own students.
"In real life, these boys
are going to be competing against the girls for jobs, for positions in
graduate programs or in trade schools," Hogshead-Makar said. "In every
other area of their life, they are going to be competing side by side."
Both schools play in the
seven-team 1A division of the ACAA. Our Lady of Sorrows won the Western
Division and Mesa Prep won the Eastern Division with an undefeated
2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not
be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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