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Will Political Correctness Ruin Interscholastic Athletics?

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By Dr. Matthew Williams |

The last few years have witnessed a dramatic emergence of political correctness in all facets of our social fabric.  A vocal segment within the nation has aggressively pursued complete adherence to the new view of political correctness.  Almost anything past or present is now susceptible to heightened scrutiny of political correctness. Cultural staples of previous generations are now “judged” by this new norm, and those that are deemed unworthy become censured. The Christmas song “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” and the holiday cartoon classics The Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Dinner and Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer were cherished cultural, generational symbols that had previously been socially accepted, but now are deemed unacceptable in today’s society.

In recent years, the current political correctness movement reached the secondary schools, and advocates applied pressure to school boards, school superintendents, and principals to change long-standing school mascots, school names, and school fight songs due to labeling as offensive, sexist, or containing ties to the Confederacy.

Political correctness has also made its presence in interscholastic sports. Advocates pushed their beliefs that everyone who participates in interscholastic sports should receive a participation trophy and schools should implement a no-cut policy so that all participants in interscholastic sports will feel included and be “winners.” These ideas run contrary to the “benefits” of interscholastic sports where experiences of highs, lows, and failures will prepare participants for adverse situations in life.

Most alarmingly is that political correctness proponents advancing their agenda of an inclusive environment have now invaded the sports participants’ competitive space. Political correctness has fundamentally altered interscholastic sports by introducing a belief, and in some states a policy, that one may compete in either boys’ or girls’ competition regardless of gender. Male athletes are now required to wrestle against female wrestlers even if it violates their own beliefs. Athletes who have moral or religious qualms have the option to compete or quit. The idea of an athlete forfeiting a sports competition not due to an injury, but rather because of one’s beliefs, is contrary to the concept of fair competition.

School Boards that have aggressively pursued implementation of political correctness created an opening for transgender athletes to compete currently as genetic males against female athletes.  A transgender athlete in Texas won back-to-back state championships in women’s wrestling, and two transgender track and field students in Connecticut won the top two places at the state championships for girls. Some girl athletes or their mothers objected to the unfair competition posed by transgender athletes self-identifying as female when they are currently genetically identified as male.

Female athletes competing against transgender “male” athletes in sports events with head-to-head competition are in an inequitable position. It creates a scenario where the female athletes are competing for the second or third place before the event occurs. This unlevel playing field may drive some athletes away from participating in interscholastic athletics for the sake of “current” political correctness.

Dr. Matthew Williams is an Associate Professor of Sports Management at The University of Virginia’s College at Wise and is an avid NASCAR fan.

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