Fair play is the name of the game
By Fred Bowen,
With all the big football and baseball games going on, you may have missed an interesting golf story.
A girl won the Virginia state boys Division AAA golf championship. That’s right, Lyberty Anderson, a junior at Manchester High School in Midlothian, rolled in a clutch eagle putt on the final hole to win the 36-hole boys tournament by a stroke.
But Anderson played a much shorter course than her male opponents. The boys played a 6,653-yard course while Anderson was allowed to tee it up on a course that measured only 5,601 yards. That’s a big difference and a big advantage for Anderson, who is so good that she won a championship against adult women when she was in the seventh grade.
Anderson, who plans to attend the University of Virginia on a golf scholarship, didn’t do anything wrong. She played great, and she played by the rules. Virginia allows girl golfers who play in boys’ tournaments to play shorter courses. (In golf, it’s not unusual for women to play on a shorter course than men.)
I just think the rule is silly. If a tournament is for a state championship, everyone should play under the same conditions. No one should get an advantage just because she’s a girl.
If a girl plays in a boys sport, whether it’s golf or football or track, she should play by the same rules as the boys. Think about it. If a girl ran in the boys high school state championship for the 100-meter dash, they wouldn’t let her start 15 meters ahead of her male competitors.
It’s okay when kids are younger to change the rules a bit to make the game more fair and to give everyone a chance to compete. But by the time kids get to high school, no athletes should get any special favors.
It’s not like women haven’t played in men’s tournaments — and from the same tees as the men — before. Annika Sorenstam, who is probably the greatest woman golfer who ever lived, played in the Colonial, a PGA event, in 2003. Sorenstam scored better than several of the male professionals, but most of the men had better scores than hers.
Lindsey Vonn, an American skier who won the gold medal in the women’s downhill at the 2010 Olympics, recently announced that she wants to compete against the best men skiers in a downhill race in November. Vonn will ski the same course as the men. She will not ski a shorter or easier course.
Lyberty Anderson says she may compete in the boys tournament again next year and play from the longer tees. I hope she does. That would show she is a real champion.
Fred Bowen writes the sports opinion column for KidsPost. He is the author of 18 sports books for kids. His latest book — “Go for the Goal!” — is about soccer.