When Emily Nash, a junior at Lunenburg High School, shot a 3-over 75 to win the Central Massachusetts Division 3 boys' golf tournament this week, girls everywhere lost. Her four-stroke victory over AMSA Charter School's Nico Ciolino should have placed the trophy in her hands at Blissful Meadows Golf Club in Uxbridge, a beautiful course known as much for its gorgeous weddings as it is for its challenging back nine.
But the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) has rules about these things. The group, whose motto is "Building the future...one student at a time...," will let a girl play with the boys, but won't let a girl beat the boys. According to MIAA rules:
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.
The upshot? The rules allow Nash's score to count toward her team but they don't allow for her to count as an individual. Let's think that through for a moment, shall we?
They count her score. They just don't count her.
But did she....?
Don't go there. She did. She played from the same tees as the boys.
While the MIAA -- the so-called adult in the room -- held fast to its antiquated, offensive rules, the runner-up, Ciolino, tried to do the right thing and give his trophy to Nash. She refused the gesture, gracefully.
But it gets better if better means worse. Nash will not be allowed to play in the state tournament next week at Wyantenuck Country Club in the beautiful Berkshires because her team did not qualify. She did. They didn't. But without them, she can't go. Let's think on that for a moment: the only way a girl who has qualified for the state tournament can play in the state tournament is if she is accompanied by her male counterparts. A girl needs boys to play.
There is no gray area here. If a girl can compete, she needs to be granted the same rights of play and privilege as the boys. It's that simple.
She's 16 years old. And she just learned that the rules say that the best player has to hand the trophy to the best boy even if his score isn't as good. The MIAA wrote this line of succession likely assuming that there would never be a problem. Because girls never beat boys, right?