Her name is Emily Nash.
If the men of the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association were paying attention to other names in the news — like, say, Mark Halperin, John Besh and George H.W. Bush — perhaps they would have made it a point to learn Nash’s.
Nash is the best Division 3 golfer, male or female, in central Massachusetts, and maybe one of the best high school players in the entire state, but she won’t have a chance to prove it because she is a girl.
Playing against boys, from the same tees, Nash won a sectional tournament by four strokes this week yet is ineligible to advance to next week’s statewide contest, which is boys’ only, by rule. She didn’t even get to keep her first-place trophy; it was awarded to the runner-up.
You would think that the athletic association, which established this unjust rule, could not look any worse in the situation. But you would be wrong.
Here’s the beginning of a statement issued by MIAA Associate Director Richard Pearson:
The MIAA and its member schools congratulate all golfers on their performance at the recent fall sectional team golf tournament. In particular, the skill of the female golfer from Lunenburg was on display as she represented her personal ability and effort on behalf of the Lunenburg High School Boys Golf Team.
“The female golfer from Lunenberg”?
Her name is Emily Nash.
She doesn’t get her trophy. She doesn’t get her rightful place in the state tournament. She doesn’t even get to be recognized by her name.
Under any circumstances, the MIAA’s statement would be a strong nominee for Most Clueless Public Relations Move of the Week. But have the men of the MIAA paid attention to the news — basically any news — this week?
From Bush to Besh to Halperin, the theme of the week has been powerful men denying women — particularly young, ambitious women — the respect they deserve. More broadly, the country is in a moment of reckoning in this area, which began with the ouster of Roger Ailes from Fox News in July 2016 and continues with allegations of sexual misconduct by Harvey Weinstein, Bill O’Reilly, President Trump and, it seems, someone new every day.
(Speaking of Trump: The president began the week by denying the claim of Gold Star widow Myeshia Johnson that he couldn't remember the name of her husband, Army Sgt. La David Johnson.)
The particulars of Nash’s marginalization are different, but the attitude is familiar — which could be why her story has been picked up by ESPN, NPR, Rolling Stone, Fox News, USA Today, the New York Daily News and more.
Even if the MIAA’s position is that it cannot change a bad rule on the spot, the organization could have at least made an effort to celebrate Nash’s achievement. Instead, it dismissed her as a nameless, faceless “female golfer from Lunenberg” and somehow made a public relations disaster more disastrous.