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Should Girls Play on Boys' Teams?


DR. WALLACE: Do you think that high school athletic teams should have the best players on the squad regardless if the players include guys and girls? I'm writing a term paper on this subject and would like to include your opinion. Personally, I say yes to my question. - Sarah, Orlando, Fla.

SARAH: I'm a major fan of women's sports and proud of the progress female athletes have made in my lifetime, but I'm afraid you're not going to like my answer. Females should not participate on male teams in most sports and vice versa.

By no means does this mean that women are lesser athletes. Pound for pound and inch by inch, female athletes are equal to males — maybe even better. But one fact is inescapable. Men are taller and heavier than women. And in most sports, strength and size make the difference, and these attributes are extremely important to team success. That's why I firmly believe the sexes should be separated in athletics. As good as the female college players are, not one would ever be good enough to compete in the National Basketball Association. The same is true for the National Football League or Major League Baseball.

I concede that, at the junior-high and even high-school levels, a small percentage of girls are good enough to play on the boys' teams. However, I still don't think they should.

As harsh as that sounds, I say this for good reason. These highly talented girls are the best ambassadors, by far, for girls' sports programs. If the best talent is siphoned off to boys' teams it would hinder the girls' teams.

As a former head basketball coach at three high schools, I firmly believe that all young people should have maximum opportunity to participate in athletics. Participation is far preferable to mere spectating. This means that sports at all levels — not just boys' varsity sports — should be generously funded and supported by local school districts. Sadly, in years gone by, this was not the case. A mere generation ago, talented girls often had no sports outlets at all. We have inherited the legacy of this unfairness and have, I agree, a long way to go before female athletes enjoy full equality with males.

I just don't think the way to rectify this situation is through coed athletic competition, especially in the contact sports. And, of course, this is just my controversial opinion. Many people are bound to disagree. But this is why I love to write a column for teens. I have my opinion, but I respect yours.

Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at



18 Comments | Post Comment
Sorry, Dr. Wallace, but I can't agree - and your logic doesn't hold up. It's certainly true that men are, on average, taller, heavier, and stronger, and that is why the shorter, lighter, weaker men are excluded. It is also why women who are shorter, lighter, and weaker should be excluded. But when the woman is large enough, strong enough, and able enough to compete with men there is no earthly reason why she shouldn't. There is a girl on a local high school wrestling team, and she is holding her own. One of the boys who competed against her admitted he was uncomfortable about wrestling a girl, but he said that when the match began, he forgot he was wrestling a girl and just started competing the way he always did.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Carla
Sat Dec 10, 2011 10:48 AM
Using Dr. Wallace's logic, then he is agreeing with the LW, because he is saying that since the boys are the best players, then they should be the ones that are on the squad, even if the team may also include females. Had the letter been written by a male, I think he would have read it as saying that the best atheletes (the boys) should be on the squad, but since it was written by a female, he automatically assumed she was trying to have him agree that the girls should be able to play.
Comment: #2
Posted by: C Meier
Sun Dec 11, 2011 9:41 AM
I'm a lifelong feminist, and I cheered our local high school girls' basketball team on to the state championship last March.

think Dr. Wallace nailed it when he said :" If the best talent is siphoned off to boys' teams it would hinder the girls' team" and "Participation is far preferable to mere spectating". I rather suspect that, in a time when budgets are extremely tight, most schools (and taxpayers) would vastly prefer to fund one basketball program instead of two, and that though such a program might be co-ed in name and intent, the reality is that overall, boys would dominate such a team, leaving fewer opportunities for girls to develop their skills enough to win recognition, fulfillment and scholarships.

That was the thinking behind Title IX, which was in its infancy when I was in high school. The skill level I see in all sports today is so much further advanced than it was back then -- even though we still aren't at a point where just as many 10 year old girls as boys ask for a basketball for Christmas.

I would hate to see us lose that momentum in some short-sighted quest for "equality". The argument could then be made: If talented girls can try out for the boys' basketball team, why then couldn't boys try out for the girls'? Indeed -- and they are likely to edge out more girls for that team than the girls edging out boys for the spots on THAT team.

Where there is no girls' team (football, wrestling, hockey?), then it does make sense to allow a girl to try out for the SCHOOL team, and compete for the school if she qualifies. It's one way for the school (the conference, the state school athletic association) to recognize growing interest on the part of girls in that sport
Comment: #3
Posted by: hedgehog
Sun Dec 11, 2011 9:49 AM
Re: Hedgehog. My point of view, exactly. And I am also a female. That is why it was annoying to me to have Dr. Wallace assume that since the LW is a femaile, that she would be disappointed in his answer.
Comment: #4
Posted by: C Meier
Sun Dec 11, 2011 12:17 PM
Whoops! Just re-read the letter. The way the LW says "I would say yes to the question", she probably does think the girls should play on the boys team if they are better. However, I still think Dr. Wallace's logic in his answer is somewhat faulty when he basically said that the boys are going to be better (therefore they would be the ones that would end up playing.

Also, I, of course, meant female (not femaile) in the previous post.
Comment: #5
Posted by: C Meier
Sun Dec 11, 2011 12:22 PM
Ok, I am going to try this one more time in a way that makes sense (hopefully). The LW did not specically ask Dr. Wallace if he thinks there should be co-ed teams, as his answer would have you believe, Nor did she say girls should be allowed to play on the boys team, as the headline asks (very subtle difference from co-ed, but still a distinction in that the school may have both boys teams and girls teams rather than one co-ed team, and that the if the girls should have a choice of which team to play on - boys or girls).

The LW instead says she is writing a paper on whether or not the best players should be on the squad if the players include both boys and girls. (Possibly saying that the team is already set up to be co-ed.) In that case, perhpas the LW has seen, or is anticipating the possibility of, girls who are not as good as some of the boys being put on the squad "to even things out". The squard may end up not being as good as it could have been. The LW would be disappointed in that outcome since she believes that the best players should be one the team.

So, while I agree with Dr. Wallace in general, I think theyway that he answered the made the assumption she was pushing to have girls on the boys team, and that is not necessarly the case.
Comment: #6
Posted by: C Meier
Sun Dec 11, 2011 1:01 PM
I think Dr. Wallace's assumption* would be the "if you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras," scenario, and the other possibilities you raise, C Meier, are more along the lines of thinking zebras.

I can't think that LW or anyone would argue that a team set up to be co-ed should be allowed to compete with only one gender represented, because then the team becomes by default NOT co-ed.

*It's possible, maybe even probable, that this was no assumption on Dr. Wallace's part -- that he has additional info that he edited out of the letter for space.
Comment: #7
Posted by: hedgehog
Sun Dec 11, 2011 3:04 PM
Title IX was a cute idea, and it looked good on paper, but it's effectively restricted women to children's games instead of actual sports. If all you're allowed to do is jog around in circles, swim back and forth, prance around in Spandex as though you belonged on a pole, or chase a ball as though you were a Labarador retriever, sport is seldom interesting or worthwhile. But those trivial activities are going to be the only ones available to you as long as you stay within the school system, which is rigidly gender-segregationist thanks to the classical Greek influence on academia.

To get a fair opportunity to participate, it's vital to go outside the school system.

Little League, community youth football, and community youth soccer accept all young people who want to play. So do most martial arts. Nobody really cares whether you have a Y chromosome, as long as you want to play. If you work hard and play well, you can earn a place on an upper-tier team.

In many cases (such as in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu), girls compete against boys all the time. Some tournaments allow adult women to enter men's events if there aren't enough women to have a separate women's event. A lot of the time, those women win or place highly. (I personally took a silver medal in a men's fencing division once; I missed the gold by only two points, and there were at least ten guys in the division besides me). Also, do a Google search on Hillary Williams, who is known for competing (and winning) against men her size, weight, and experience level.
Comment: #8
Posted by: R.A.
Tue Dec 13, 2011 8:44 AM
old ladies rock!
Comment: #9
Posted by: polyglot
Mon Jan 9, 2012 7:17 AM
wat up this ^(kaveman)^ i agree
with clara or wat ever her name is
Comment: #10
Posted by: kaveman
Mon Nov 19, 2012 5:50 PM
Comment: #11
Posted by: Ceara
Mon Dec 17, 2012 7:28 AM
girls should play with boys and and the sports only they play. And a lot of people think boys are stronger than girls BUT ALL THOSE LOSERS WHO THINK THAT ARE WRONG.
Comment: #12
Posted by: magpie4
Thu Jan 24, 2013 2:09 PM
i tot agree cusze i have a freind that is a tom boy
Comment: #13
Posted by: grayson
Fri Apr 12, 2013 7:22 AM
Re: Ceara thats not nice
Comment: #14
Posted by: grayson
Fri Apr 12, 2013 7:23 AM
Re: carla it wouldnt be fair then for weak would it?
Comment: #15
Posted by: bequietcarla
Thu May 16, 2013 8:56 AM
Re: carla it wouldnt be fair then for weak would it?
Comment: #16
Posted by: bequietcarla
Thu May 16, 2013 8:56 AM
Re: Ceara f what?
Comment: #17
Posted by: IA7
Mon Mar 3, 2014 10:58 AM
grils and boys can plaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy together who ever say they don't u suck
Comment: #18
Posted by: marquise
Thu Nov 13, 2014 8:11 AM
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