First there was the US Women’s National Hockey Team winning a more equitable contract with USA Hockey. Then there was the case of the US Women’s National Soccer Team demanding—and winning—better pay, increased support for families of players and improved travel conditions. But don’t think for a minute these achievements make it down to the high school level for girls. The case of Lunenberg (Mass.) High School golfer Emily Nash proves it hasn’t. She was allowed to beat the boys but couldn’t take home the championship or the trophy that goes with it.
That’s right. Emily beat everyone else on the course at the Central (Mass.) region Division 3 high school golf tournament at Blissful Meadows in Uxbridge, Mass. this week. But according to the rules, she wasn’t allowed to “win.”
Emily beat the second place finisher—a boy—by four strokes. He was the official winner. According to the Boston Globe, “Girls from schools that do not field female golf teams, which play in the spring, may compete as team members during the boys’ golf season, which is held in the fall. However, scores recorded by girls in the boys’ divisional tournaments do not count toward the individual tournament championships; girls have their individual tournaments at the end of the spring season.” Emily was fourth in the girls’ tourney earlier this year.
Just in case someone might misinterpret the rules of the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) for girls golfing in boy’s tournaments, it is actually written, literally, in all caps.
“Girls playing on a fall boys team CANNOT BE ENTERED IN THE BOYS FALL INDIVIDUAL TOURNAMENT. THEY CAN ONLY PLAY IN THE BOYS TEAM TOURNAMENT. If qualified, they can play in the spring Girls Sectional and State Championships.” Again, that’s not my emphasis.
Common sense may yet prevail. Members of the MIAA governing board may reevaluate the rules and Emily might still be declared the champion of the tournament. It’s just plain stupid that a person—male or female—can enter any kind of tournament, get the best score, and not be declared the winner.
It should be noted that the boy who was declared the “winner,” Marlborough Advanced Math and Science Academy Charter School junior Nico Ciolino, offered the tournament trophy to Emily. She politely declined.
While Alex Morgan and Hilary Knight may be trailblazers for women’s sports, Emily Nash remains a winner without the championship.