But Can He Do Jazz Hands?

But Can He Do Jazz Hands?
Erik Deckers
Laughing Stalk Syndicate
Copyright 2007

I was in high school when the NCAA implemented its now-famous Title IX sports massacre, which brought parity to men's and women's collegiate sports. But as a male athlete, I hated the way the universities brought the parity about. They slashed men's sports across the board so there were equal numbers of men's and women's teams. By the time they were done, there were more casualties than Freddie Krueger's visit to a summer camp counselor convention.

The better choice would have been to increase the number of women's sports, rather than eliminate men's sports. Killing the dreams of young male athletes is not equality; creating new opportunities for young female athletes is.

"But there's not enough money," the universities wailed, including my alma mater, Ball State University. "We have to cut the sports that thousands of young men have dedicated their lives to!"

If they had instead eliminated a couple of football scholarships for, say, the back-up punter and third string right tackle, they could have funded a couple of new women's teams.

Even my own sport suffered. By the time I got to college in 1985, the men's soccer team had withered to nothing more than a club. We were now rubbing elbows with the Physics Club and the Dungeons & Dragons Society.

Only we got more women. Literally.

During my junior year, a woman joined our soccer club. We were happy to have her, partly because we were a forward thinking club, but also because she was cute, and had a leg like a cannon.

We all grew up in the day when girls fought and sued to play boys' sports -- baseball, football, even wrestling. "Girls are good enough to do boys' sports," they said. And they are. Today, Franklin (Indiana) High School has a girl kicker on the team.

So when Sam asked to join, we said yes without batting an eye.

But what if a guy wanted to play a woman's sport, like field hockey, softball, or women's soccer? Do our little boy instincts kick in, and we think he's weird for wanting to play with a bunch of girls? Will he face ridicule and scorn? What about reverse discrimination?

Those are questions high school senior Evan Miller tried to answer when he was on the Delta High School dance team in my hometown of Muncie, Indiana.

According to a recent story in the Muncie Star-Press, Miller made the team this past spring, and practiced with the squad all summer long. But it was all for nothing, because he was cut from the squad on Sept. 19.

"It's because I'm a boy," Miller told the Star-Press.

His last performance was at Delta's home football game on Saturday, Sept. 14. The following Wednesday, Miller was taken aside by Lisa Letsinger, director of the Delta Energy Dance team, and mother of team co-captain, Ashton Letsinger.

According to Miller, Letsinger said she had received some negative feedback from Delta's principal, Greg Hinshaw, and others "higher than her" that it was "not right" for a boy to be a dancer on a girls' dance team.

But Letsinger offered something nearly as good. He could be the manager and come to practices, but couldn't dance at games or go to competitions. And they would be secret best friends, only no one else could know.

Now wait a minute. We already know girls are good enough to play boys' sports. They've proven that time and again for the last 30 years. But why isn't a boy good enough to be on a girls' dance squad?

When Miller and other members of the squad talked to Principal Hinshaw about the discrimination -- I mean, decision, he said it was actually about Miller's overall performance.

Miller said, "The principal said the reason was that (Letsinger) didn't want to hurt my feelings at try-outs by not letting me make the team then."

That makes sense. I'm sure making the team, practicing for three months, performing a few times, and then being cut because some people have gender role hangups doesn't hurt nearly as much as being told "no" from day one.

Either Letsinger or Hinshaw are lying. Neither of them can give Miller a straight story. He says it's about performance, she says it's about his gender. One of them hurt his feelings, the other opened the school up to a sex discrimination lawsuit it would be smart to avoid.

Miller told the Star-Press, "I think, if you want to join something, and it's a club, and you have a passion for it, you should be allowed to do it."

I agree. If Miller wants to dance, and he was good enough to make the squad in the spring, then let the boy dance.

So shame on Hinshaw and Letsinger for being hung up on the fact that one of their dancers has a Y chromosome. Girls have spent the last 30 years fighting to play boys' sports. So it should be no surprise that the tables are finally turning.

Because it seems it's the boys who will finally end up dancing on them.