Thursday, February 14, 2008

Catholic school's ban of woman referee may be ruled out of bounds

A Catholic school has barred a woman referee from officiating at games - and now this may spell trouble with the statewide athletic association.

It happened this month at St. Mary's Academy, an utterly Neanderthal school in St. Marys, Kansas. On February 2, the school hosted a boys' high school basketball game. (It's unknown what school the team was playing against.) The refs bipped onto the court prepared for an exciting match-up.

But only minutes before the game was to begin, a school administrator showed up and declared that one of the referees would not be allowed to officiate - just because she is a woman. The school's "reasoning" was that it did not think women should be in authority over boys.

A male referee who served at 2 games just before that one was told by the school to stay on an emergency basis. But when he found out the so-called emergency was to replace the woman referee, he walked off in protest and refused to officiate - as did the male referee who was scheduled to officiate with the female ref.

The Kansas State High School Activities Association isn't too pleased about the school's action either. The KSHSAA's executive director says the episode is unprecedented. St. Mary's Academy is not a member of the league but is approved by the league to play member schools. Now the KSHSAA is going to reevaluate whether the school can stay on the approved list.

The KSHSAA has rules and bylaws, you see. Maybe one of those rules is that schools can't discriminate against women refs. If a school is on the league's approved list, it has to follow league rules when it hosts league teams. End of discussion. A school has no business expecting not to have to follow the rules everyone else has to follow. (Though some schools do expect to not to have to follow rules, as I've seen.)

Maybe this incident was unprecedented, but I guarantee you that stuff like it isn't, even in recent memory. The problem goes squarely to school bureaucracies that build up power for years and are above any challenge or criticism whatsoever. I'm pleasantly surprised the school actually received any criticism, because I've seen how private school bureaucracies get a pass.


1 comment:

  1. Another reason I am so glad I never had to go to a Catholic school. (Especially from what I hear about Brossart.)