While it should seem pretty obvious that whoever performs the best in a sports tournament should win, a rule from the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) has denied that privilege to 16-year-old Emily Nash.
Nash competed in the Central Mass. Division 3 Boy's Golf Tournament this fall, and came out on top when the competition ended on Tuesday. Even though she outperformed all other players, though, Nash wasn't awarded a trophy because she's a girl.
"Girls playing on a fall boys' team cannot be entered in the Boys Fall Individual Tournament," MIAA rules state. "They can only play in the Boys Team Tournament. If qualified, they can play in the spring Girls Sectional and State Championships."
The rules say that girls can play in the tournament and can contribute to their team's overall score, but cannot win as individual players. The rule has caused outrage amongst people who support Nash, and say that she has a right to the trophy no matter her gender.
Despite the backlash, Nash told the Telegram & Gazette that she understands there are rules that keep her from winning the top spot in the tournament. "I don’t think people expected for this to happen, so they didn’t really know how to react to it," she said. "None of us are mad at the MIAA or anything like that, but I was definitely a little bit disappointed."
Nico Ciolino, who came in second to Nash and officially won the competition because he is a boy, offered to give Nash the trophy but she declined. "I thought it was really nice of him, and I kind of felt bad for him because I knew he got the trophy, and he felt really awkward about it," Nash told the Telegram & Gazette.
Even in face of the outrage and people calling the rule that denied Nash her trophy "archaic," the MIAA defended their decision. The organization posted a statement to Twitter Thursday congratulating all of the players on their performance — including Nash — but said that they "has worked over the years to establish both a boys and girls golf tournament." The tournaments exist in two different seasons, boys in the fall and girls in the spring, they said, and Nash will have an opportunity to win on an individual level once the girls' tournament rolls around.
Even though Nash seems to understand why she wasn't allowed to win the tournament, plenty of people aren't satisfied with the MIAA's response. They're calling the organization out for not even using Nash's name, and saying that it's high time for them to consider a rule change.
We have to say we agree. Separating sports by gender isn't ideal, especially given that boys and girls aren't the only two genders that exist, and if you're going to allow a girl to play in a boys' tournament then she should also be allowed to win it.
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