Keep Up With the Boys...But Don't Be Better

Jamie Nared, a 12-year-old girl who is six feet tall and an extremely talented basketball player, has been playing on a mixed-sex team since the second grade—but has suddenly been banned from playing with boys after parents complained. Her coach, Michael Abraham, and her parents (and, frankly, video of her game) suggest that the complaints arose because Jamie is so good and makes the boys on opposing teams look bad.
Jaime's mom, Reiko Williams, said the issue boiled over after a particular game. "She scored 30 points," Williams said. "I remember one play. She stole the ball, dribbled up court and made a behind-the-back pass to a teammate. He missed the lay-in, and she grabbed the rebound and put it in. I think it was just too much for some of those parents."

Abraham put Jaime on the boys team to match her skills and keep her with peers. He has had her play on high-school girls teams, but many travel and "her parents want her to be around kids her own age," Abraham said.

And when she played on same-age girls teams?

"We beat one team 90-7," Abraham said. "At her level, it's like having Shaq on a high-school team."

He said the boys on his team enjoyed playing with Jaime — among a handful of girls to play on his boys teams over the years — because she helped them improve.

"If she were 4-feet-9 and no good, we wouldn't be having this discussion," Abraham said.

"I can't think of one boy that we've played against that's had a problem with her," he added. "Maybe their dads do."
Oh, snap! But of course the parents, opposing coaches, and league who enforced the rule deny that her talent has anything to do with the decision.
Neal Franzer, The Hoop's director of operations, said Thursday that parents were "adamant" that their complaints have nothing to do with Jaime's skills.

"They said the problem was the boys were playing differently against her because she was a girl," he said. "They'd been taught to not push a girl, so they weren't fouling her hard, and the focus had shifted from playing basketball to noticing a girl was on the floor with them."
You'll note there are two little bits of victim-blaming there: 1. Jamie is a girl—so the boys can't help but be too easy on her; and 2. Jamie is a girl—so the boys can't help but be distracted by her. Either way: It's her fault.

So now Jamie is being denied the opportunity to play with kids her own age at the appropriate skill level. She can either play with girls much older where she's challenged (about which her parents quite understandably aren't thrilled; there's a big difference between what 12-year-olds talk about and do when they hang out together and what 17-year-olds talk about and do when they hang out together), or play with girls her own age where she won't be as challenged—and, let's face it, will ruin the games for the other girls. A 90-7 blow-out can't be fun for any of the other players, even those on her own team.

There's a solution to this problem, naturally: Let Jamie play with the boys her own age, as she's been doing. But it's better to make her, and all the rest of the girls in her age group, suffer than risk emasculating boys who her team may beat. And forget about the boys on her team who are challenged and inspired by Jamie, like her teammate Joey Alfieri, who adorably says, "Her greatness, like, it, like, sprinkles off and goes onto us, and it kinda makes us better as a player, too."

Instead, it's the same old shit: Protect the boys most indoctrinated into the patriarchy (and/or their parents) and fiercely defend their privilege. Maude forbid they actually have to face the possibility that there might be a girl on the planet who's better at something than they are, or learn how to treat girls as their equals.

Meanwhile, the girls are taught one of the most important lessons of the patriarchy: The promise that if you work hard and do as well as the boys you'll be treated equally is a lie. If you do as well or—gasp!—better than the boys, you'll just be barred from competing, or segregated, or stopped however the rules allow, or demeaned until you quit.

The saddest part of this story for me is that Jamie says she wants to join the NBA when she grows up. Not the stinky old WNBA, but the NBA. The men's league. Because of course she's already learned that aspiring to the best women have got is still second-best.

[H/T to Shaker Sunless Nick, who credits sbg at The Hathor Legacy.]

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