April 2, 2001
Solutions aren't easy, but apathy is irresponsible
I very nearly drove off the road when my 13 year-old 7th grade son after his first wrestling tournament, announced to me that there were girls on the opposing team. I told him that I would not allow him to wrestle girls. I, meanwhile, thinking that it was a fluke for a girl to be on a wrestling team to begin with, never dreamed that he would have to forfeit his wrestling match on that day because he was paired up with a girl, and that he would also forfeit a chance to be on the junior varsity team for the season. How can we subject our precious boys - with a growing sense of their own sexuality in response to the opposite sex, their new awareness of the impending transition from boyhood to manhood, and their attempts to channel their newfound physical energy and strength into acceptable avenues requiring skill and control - how, tell me how, can we then thrust them into an arena where they are required to grab a female body in potentially intimate places, slam the girl down on the mat, lay on top of the girl, and then play with their brains by telling them that this is perfectly acceptable?
We hand our children adult-sized issues and then expect them to handle it in the context of their own sensitive and intense period of adolescent development.
Please parents! Let's give our adolescent boys the space to grow and learn about themselves and the limits of their own strength and abilities during this intense time without subjecting them to this cruel awkwardness. Aren't we being remiss by forcing our boys to own the problems created by the few female wrestlers who see it as their right to serve their own self-interests?
Rights must be balanced with a sense of responsibility, and we all have the responsibility to see to the healthy psychological growth of these boys.
I challenge you to ask yourself whether boys wrestling girls seems intuitively wrong and inappropriate to you. If it does, let's have the courage to be parents and to protect our adolescents during this sensitive time in their lives. Parents of male wrestlers could prohibit their sons from wrestling girls. The solutions aren't easy but an apathetic is completely irresponsible.
Mary Aslin, Woodinville