A Catholic Youth Organization 5th grade basketball team out of Clark, New Jersey had played all season with an 11-child roster including nine boys and two girls. In late January the director of the CYO league informed the team that the word had come down from the archdiocese that playing as a coed team offended Jesus or something and thus violated league protocol T team would either have to remove the two girls from the team or forfeit the rest of its season.
The adults running the team had screwed up, you see.
Oops. Sorry kids. Our bad, you pay for it.
These options were unacceptable, and any 10-year old would see it. In fact, any 10-year old did.
Was playing with the girls an unfair advantage? Was there any reason not to waive the bigoted, archaic rule, especially since the team had been playing with the two girls on the team already? Was it not cruel to kick the girls off the team, when it was adults who were at fault? IS THERE ANY REASON IN THE WORLD WHY A 5TH GRADE TEAM PLAYING BASKETBALL CAN’T BE CO-ED?
The team took a vote at a gymnasium, right before a scheduled game, and agreed unanimously that it would either play all together, with the female team members, or not at all. The director of the league reportedly instructed the game officials not to officiate if the girls were in uniform and on the bench, whether they played or not.
In the crowd, parents and supporters of the St. John’s team cheered when the vote was announced. Some parents began to cry.
“Pride. Just pure pride,” one parent said when asked how she felt about the vote. “These kids are doing the right thing. We don’t have to tell them what to do. They just know. It’s amazing.”
The refs wouldn’t take the court. (They should have.) The opposing team, which had warmed up, left the gym. (They should have played the game, without refs, to support the protest.) St John’s forfeited the game, but the team and the essence of what a team is was preserved, and so were ethical values like caring, responsibility, courage, proportion, empathy, fairness, respect. and the Golden Rule.
The kids also learned great life lessons that will serve them well, about
…how bureaucracies work, or rather, don’t,
…how not to address ethical dilemmas,
…how the way to expose bad laws and rules is to break them, expose them,and accept the consequences,
…how just because someone is an adult and has power doesn’t mean that they have the necessary wisdom and ethical skills to wield that power rationally,
…that unjust use of power should be opposed,
…that females still are subjected to crap like this, and males should help them kick it right out of the culture.
And, of course, that bias makes you stupid.