DR. WALLACE: Our 15-year-old daughter happens to be a very good athlete but has been denied the opportunity to try out for the football team because she is a girl. She can throw and kick a football farther than most boys. If our daughter is skilled enough to make the team, why shouldn't she be permitted to try out for the team? Your comments will be welcomed. — Father, Dallas
FATHER: This is a very difficult question for me to answer, but I'll give it a try.
If the school offers the same sports for boys and girls, then the girls should play on the girls team and the boys on the boys team, regardless of the skill of the athletes.
In cases where a sport is offered to only boys — football, baseball (not softball), wrestling, etc., then a girl should have the right to try out for the team and to be fairly evaluated on her skills. Very few would make it. If a sport is offered for girls and not for boys (possibly softball, field hockey, water ballet, etc.), then boys who possess sufficient skills should also be allowed to try out for these teams and fairly evaluated.
However, you must remember that few girls will ever become starters on an all-boys team. And if boys were allowed to play on an all-girls team, the team would eventually be male-dominated, denying some girls the opportunity to compete and receive playing time.
I feel athletics are a positive force in high school, for both the athlete and the student body. As a former varsity basketball head coach — and, later, a high school administrator — I witnessed a wonderful growth in girls athletics. The number of high school girl athletes matches the number of boy athletes.
I'd like to see the number stay equal. But when boys are permitted to participate in what was an all-girls sport, girls will be the losers. Girls are every bit as skilled as boys in athletics, but the fact remains that, for the most part, boys are bigger, stronger and faster and can jump higher and farther than girls.
That's the major reason why girls should compete with and against girls and boys should compete with and against boys. There are indeed exceptions like a field goal kicker in football, but for the most part, at the high school level, gender-specific sports teams best serve student-athletes of both genders.
NOT IN HIS DREAMS
DR. WALLACE: I told my best friend that I like a certain boy. That same day, she went up to him and told him. That afternoon at school, he came up to me and said, "I hear that you like me." I could have died right then and there. All I could say was, "In your dreams." Then he walked away, saying nothing. Now I've got a lot of problems. First, I'm mad at my friend for having a big mouth. Next, I basically told the guy I LIKE to get lost. And finally, I also made him feel like a fool. Help! I feel stuck and embarrassed. — Bewildered, via email
BEWILDERED: Don't be mad at your friend. She might have thought that she was doing you a big favor, and it might turn out that she did. At least this boy now knows who you are. It's now up to you to see that he gets to know you a little better — and I don't mean in his dreams. Take the next opportunity when you see him at school to calmly walk up to him and say that you were caught off guard the other day and that you want to let him know that you think he's a nice person. Hopefully, a nice conversation will ensue. At the very least, you will have proactively removed yourself from feeling "stuck." And you can feel good knowing your kind follow-up comments to him are a classy move on your part!
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 [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.