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More Important than a Football Victory

Marian T. Horvat, Ph.D.

A positive sign of the times can be seen in a sports incident involving the forfeit of a football game in the State of Kansas. Here is the story in brief.

St. Mary’s Academy and White City High School were scheduled to play an eight-man football game Friday, October 1, at the St. Mary’s campus. But when the St. Mary’s team realized that one of the boys on the White City team was a girl, a freshman guard Kara Dowell, the team said it would forfeit the game rather than play against a girl.

Kara, the girl in question, offered to sit the game out. But her teammates at White City High School voted unanimously that if she didn’t play, then the whole team wouldn’t play. So no one played, and St. Mary’s Academy lost by forfeit.

It seems simple enough to understand the St. Mary’s position. Football is a rough game, a contact sport where players are pummeled, thrown to the ground, and often injured. It is traditionally a game for young men, not young women, and especially not for young men and women to play together, since men are stronger physically and more combative by nature.

Further, St. Mary’s Academy aims to teach its young men to be gentlemen. Every well-bred young man should show genteel respect to women whenever and wherever he meets them. So, naturally, the Academy decided not to send its boys out to tackle a woman on the playing field. One might suppose with the number of battered spouses and girlfriends on the rise today, one would respect the Academy’s position that this isn’t the way to train boys to treat girls.

In an address on “The Dignity of Women” in 1956, Pope Pius XII harshly criticized the “very idea” of using women in construction work, mines and various types of heavy labor, calling it a sad return to the pagan times before Christian Civilization, which instituted civil laws and institutions respecting their dignity as women (Radio-message to the Federation of Italian Women, Loreto, October 14, 1956). What would he say about the situation a half century later, when women take up every occupation and join in the roughest sports, even football?

It is obvious that our epoch, for all its talk of dignity, does not understand the true dignity of women at all. How can promoting women to act and look like men be called upholding their dignity? The equilibrium of the human race requires women with a rich feminine spirit and make-up, just as it requires of men the profoundly masculine soul. Just as it is absurd to educate a generation of boys in the most feminine possible way, it is no less ludicrous to educate a generation of girls with the intention of making them as masculine as possible. It is wrong because it is a complete subversion of the natural order.

Kara Dowell

Kara Dowell, freshman guard on the boys football team
Along these lines, the football game forfeit reported above is a positive sign of our days: there are Catholics who are resisting the egalitarian customs of our days, and who are champions of the true dignity of women. The St. Mary’s Academy high school football team is to be commended for their action.

Unfortunately, it isn’t that simple. In today’s egalitarian climate, the simple forfeit became news and raised protests.

The White City team was indignant because Kara was treated different from “the guys” [even though, as is evident from her press photo, she is clearly different from the young men]. Kara gave interviews and said that she was upset, that this was a blow against women’s rights. The director of the Kansas State High School Activities Association was disgruntled and said special attention will be given to the Academy’s qualification status next year. An Internet Poll made a survey asking readers to vote: Was St. Mary’s right to refuse to play football against a team with a girl? Of the almost 20,000 respondents, 72% said “No.”

It is a most negative symptom that the corruption of customs has advanced so far that, in the name of equal rights, many people can think it is normal, and even good, for girls to play football.


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