Wednesday 24 January 2018

Boy with 'superior' skills battles to play girls' hockey

Rachael Alexander in New York

HE'S too good, and that's too bad. A 13-year-old boy who played field hockey growing up in Ireland has been told that after two years as a member of his US school's girls' team, he is now too skilled to qualify for an exemption allowing him to compete with girls next season.

Keeling Pilaro is appealing the decision, and a lawyer for his family suggests a court battle could ensue.

Keeling's fight appears to be a rare example of a male seeking to take advantage of Title IX, a 40-year-old law enacted to provide women with equal access to athletic opportunities. There are no boys' high school field hockey teams on Long Island, or in most of the country.

"It's really annoying," Keeling said. "I don't really care if I'm on a girls' team or a boys' team, I just want to play."

Southampton school administrators agree, but they don't have the final say.

Edward Cinelli, the director of the organisation that oversees high school athletics in Suffolk County, cited a provision in state education law that says administrators are permitted to bar boys from girls' teams if a boy's participation "would have a significant adverse effect" on a girl's opportunity to participate in that sport.

Officials say Keeling's skills are superior to the girls he plays against, creating an unfair advantage.

Family attorney Frank Scagluso argued that judging the boy's stick play was subjective, and that many girls playing in Suffolk County had superior skills.

After a year on the junior varsity and a second season with the varsity, the committee in March denied Keeling permission to play next season. The panel's appeals committee in April affirmed the original decision.

Another appeal hearing is set for May 15.

Irish Independent

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