It’s 2015. Ronda Rousey, Serena Williams, and the USWNT are some of the most talked about athletes of the year. The Arizona Cardinals just hired the first female NFL Coach, Becky Hammon coached the San Antonio Spurs Summer League team to a championship and could become a head coach in the league soon enough. Heck, even WWE is in the midst of a #DivasRevolution. Point is, we’re slowly moving beyond the era of sexism in sports, and the idea that women can be just as gifted and talented in athletics as men is a well-accepted fact.
Apparently, organizers of the National Travel Basketball Association Tournament in Myrtle Beach, S.C., however, still don’t get that message.
The tournament decided to disqualify the Charlottesville Cavaliers, an under-11 team from Virginia, after they had already won five games and reached the tournament semifinals. The reason? They had a 10-year-old girl, Kymora Johnson, on their team.
Johnson had played in the tournament the last two years, as well as gone through the entire registration process for this year’s tournament and played up until the semifinals, before tournament officials notified her coaches that the Cavs had been disqualified because there was a new rule put in place this year that didn’t allow girls to play in the tournament.
If you’re wondering why the entire Cavs had to be disqualified and not just allowed to play without Johnson, the rationale was that another team from Florida had also been disqualified for having a girl, so it was only fair to also DQ the team from Charlottesville.
Putting aside how ridiculous the rule is in general (if females are “inferior” athletes, how exactly does having one on a team give that team an advantage?), the next question becomes, how did tournament officials not only allow Johnson to register for the tournament, but also play in several games before she was kicked out? NTBA President John Whitley says they believed she was not playing, but merely sitting on the bench watching the game. Form the Daily Progress:
“We have no problem with the girls sitting on the bench,” Whitley said. “We don’t care who sits on the bench with the teams, that goes for anybody … to sit on the bench.”
Whitley and Cavs head coach Joe Mallory have disputing accounts of whether or not the no-girl rule was communicated to the team prior to the tournament, but the fact that Johnson was allowed to register (which required a birth certificate) and play up to the semifinals seems to support Mallory’s story.
For their part, Johnson says her teammates were supportive of her, and the team even protested the game, in which they were supposed to have played in, by standing on the sidelines together wearing pink shirts. Being that the Cavs are not getting reimbursed for the team’s registration costs ($450 per team, as well as a $40 spectator fee per person), they are considering legal action.
I’m going to take a wild guess that the NTBA is regretting their decision to implement to “no girls allowed” rule right about now.
(Via the Daily Progress)