Mississippi got back into the NCAA’s good graces a year ago, when some public arm-twisting convinced the Legislature and Gov. Tate Reeves to change the state flag.
With a new flag, Mississippi once again became eligible to host NCAA tournaments like baseball and softball regional playoffs. Unfortunately, that didn’t last for a full school year, because the state could be in hot water again.
The NCAA announced last week that it is considering banning its regional playoffs and tournaments in states that have restricted competition for transgender athletes. Mississippi did that this year, passing a law that prevents transgender females at public high schools and colleges from competing against other females.
Mississippi Today reports that Idaho approved a similar law last year, while Tennessee and Arkansas passed bills this year. Before anybody starts accusing these states of discrimination, let’s review both sides of the debate.
The NCAA Board of Governors said in a statement, “Inclusion and fairness can coexist for all student-athletes, including transgender athletes, at all levels of sport. Our clear expectation as the association’s top governing body is that all student-athletes will be treated with dignity and respect.”
No argument there. All athletes indeed should be treated with respect. It is un-American to contrive rules to limit competition.
Honestly, though, it is grating to hear the NCAA talk about the dignity and respect of student athletes when its members have made billions of dollars without sharing any of the income from the athletes who produced it.
But the other side, where Mississippi, Idaho and their peers are taking a stand, clearly wants to ensure that athletic competition is fair.
The NCAA’s statement also said, “We are committed to ensuring that NCAA championships are open for all who earn the right to compete in them.” Yes, exactly — with an emphasis on earning the right to compete.
There are obvious physiological differences between males and females. One way to quantify this through athletics is to look at the NCAA’s records in the 100-meter dash. For men, the lowest times are slightly below 10 seconds. For women, it’s right at 11 seconds. Yes, it’s only a one-second difference, but it’s also 10%. That is significant.
With that kind of a head start, has a transgender female truly earned the right to compete against other females who are at a disadvantage created by biology? Surely there are examples of transgender females who have won high school sports awards by beating others who were born female. How fair is that?
We’re in the first stage of figuring out how to solve this problem. The NCAA is trying to do right but may be rushing things a bit.
That’s a lame excuse, one used decades years ago to explain why schools hesitated to integrate, but the issues involving transgender female athletes defy simple solutions. The NCAA may need to be a bit more patient.
— From The (McComb) Enterprise Journal