A little girl’s dreams have been crushed. There’s no doubt about that. The only question is, who did the crushing? Popular opinion is that it’s all the fault of a school. A Christian school, mind you.
Maddy Paige was a starting defensive tackle last year for a recreational football team. Next year she wants to play for her school, Strong Rock Christian School. The private institution has a policy prohibiting girls from playing on all boys teams. As a result, everyone who is everyone is mad at the school.
Sexism is alive and well down in Locust Grove, Georgia!
The Bible Thumpers are at it again!
And so on and so forth with all of the expected moans and groans.
What do we want?
Seventh grade girls to play football!
When do we want it?
But no one wants to look beneath the rhetoric, at the core, where the real problem rests. Isn’t that where one can usually find the painful truth? Maybe that’s why so many people prefer the surface arguments. They’re not nearly as painful as the truth. On the surface, I can play the victim. It’s beneath the surface where we find the real culprit. And we may not like what we find. Hooray for the surface!
The school isn’t the problem here. Yes, I know. They’re the ones crushing a young girl’s dreams. But is it the job of an educational institution to inspire kids to follow their dreams? Absolutely not. An educational institution, as well as a family institution, at least the good ones, the ones that care to look beneath the surface, see that their responsibility is to give guidance, not continual and groundless affirmation. Not all dreams are worth following.
Parents and teachers are there to narrow down dreams for kids and help them to see which ones are worth following. So in a very real sense, parents and teachers are supposed to crush dreams. Gasp! But the fact that nobody wants to be a dream crusher is why so many young adults find themselves in a quarter-life crisis. All of their lives they’ve been told by parents and teachers that they can do anything they want to do and nothing can stand in their way, even gender or a lack of talent. As a result, they end up following their dreams, however wild and irresponsible they may be, only to see them crushed by the hard realities of life. Better to have a wild and crazy dream crushed at 10 than 25.
As you might expect, Paige’s mother is furious with Strong Rock’s dream-crushing policy.
“What they’ve done here is they’ve taken Maddy – they let her have that cake, then they took it from her and they smashed it.”
Fair enough. But wouldn’t it have been easier if mom and dad had done the smashing long ago. Or perhaps, I don’t know, not even let her have the cake to begin with? Maybe a different piece of cake?
Look Maddy, football is for boys. That doesn’t mean that boys are better than girls or that God loves boys more than girls. He just created them to have different roles. It’s sort of like the Trinity. The Father, Son and Spirit each have different roles but they are still equally God. Hey look, a softball!
Oh, but I can hear the arguments already.
Do you honestly expect a parent to talk to a sixth grader about the Trinity?!
No. But it would be nice. Besides, if we think that our little ones are old enough and responsible enough to be activists, maybe they can handle a little theology better than we might expect.
And that’s another thing that’s lost in cases like this. The child. Parents have to know that this cannot end well for the child, whether it’s in the seventh grade or in the NFL. Strong Rock said that Maddy’s presence on the middle school team “may” cause boys to have impure thoughts.
Seventh grade boys have impure thoughts looking at a can opener. Imagine what happens to the minds of those little seventh grade boys when they are told to wrap their arms around young Maddy’s waist or push her in the chest. Go ahead. Imagine. I can guarantee you that a group of seventh grade boys already are imagining. And that’s the thing that no one wants to talk about. When it comes to the blurring of gender lines, imaginations are given the opportunity to become actions.
In our culture we are quick to make accusations about sexism. And institutions usually, over time, cave to those accusations. That’s why there are women in our military fighting side by side with men on the front lines.
But we can’t have our cake and eat it too, to borrow a phrase from Maddy’s mother.
We cannot then be surprised when the real sexism takes place. The sexism that leads to a powerful man raping a woman under his command while on the field of battle. Or the sexism that takes place when a seventh grade boy with a wild imagination and a camera phone spends the better part of the afternoon tackling a girl.
Maddy says that Strong Rock Christian School has taken away her dreams. Maybe so. But maybe, in taking away those dreams, Strong Rock Christian School is protecting something that is much more precious to Maddy.