Emily Nash, 16, Allowed to Compete, Not Allowed to Win
So, here is the situation, and keep in mind that this is the year 2017. Unfortunately for girls’ golf, Lunenburg High School in Massachusetts doesn’t have a golf team for young women. That leaves Emily Nash out in the cold, although she can compete later in the state tournament for girls. In the meantime, she is accepted onto the boy’s team, and competes as a member of that team in the Central Mass Division 3 Boy’s Golf Tournament. We can guess the rest. Yes, Emily Nash, the 16-year old from Lunenburg High School wins that tournament going away. She defeats the second place ‘boy’ by four strokes, and accomplishes the victory with a round of plus 3, a 75. I don’t mind saying that seeing a 16-year old turning in that type of score is beyond my grasp, but regardless, that’s what Emily Nash did.
Nash’ score goes into the accumulated tally of her team, but the natural reward for anyone on the team, to go on to the individual tournament, will be denied her. Along with that, she cannot accept the trophy for winning this past week. It is apparently acceptable for a girl to join a boy’s team in the absence of a suitable alternative, but she is, at least in this case, disqualified from reaping the rewards of victory if she wins. At the bottom of it all, one must suspect that no one in the system thought she would win, or perhaps silently hoped that she would not. It would all be fine, then. Nash did not realize at the time that if she were to win, no trophy would be presented to her. Instead, the trophy was presented to the second place finisher, who gallantly declined it, saying that Nash had won the tournament, and no one else. The powers that be are not making this whole thing up just to be mean. There’s a rule after all, that says that “girls playing on a boys’ fall team cannot be entered in the Boys Fall Individual tournament.”
Nash reacted to being informed of the rule took with considerable maturity, acknowledging that a rule is a rule. She was disappointed, but not mad at all. The Director of the tournament, Kevin Riordan, assures us that Emily’s coach knew the rule as well as anyone else, so why should she be mad? Frankly, she should. The existence of a rule that should have gone out with the 1919 Suffrage movement is cold comfort. If an individual is allowed to compete on a level playing field, and to have her scores incorporated into the team standings, she has satisfied the requirements to participate as a full-fledged competitor. Nash has only been denied the right to win. Same course, same tee boxes, same everything, but in case she wins, it doesn’t count. Curtis Strange had it right, tweeting “High School girl not awarded first-place trophy, because she’s a girl…Really?”
Of interest is that the rule was created in 2017. Well, I suppose that a rule is a rule. However, it may not be a legal one. This brings the Massachusetts system into Title IX territory. According to the letter and spirit of Title IX, the system is not allowed to separate “contact or skill-based” sports by gender. Every academic sports organization is obligated to treat girls and boys equally, once they have been cleared to compete. There is no partial citizenship. There is no “No girls allowed” provision. Title IX should take precedence over a local bias. Emily Nash put in the work, put in the time, and turned in the score to win that tournament. I can only hope that there are some local golf-loving attorneys who would love to get their hands on a case like this.