Take common sense approach, let Becky Carlson get her at-bats


March 24, 1996|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,SUN STAFF

Let her play, for goodness' sake.

One of these days, common sense is going to play a part in gender equity cases such as Arundel's Becky Carlson playing baseball.

It seems rather ludicrous that girls are allowed to play football and wrestle, but the county and state is saying Carlson should not play baseball.

Carlson, a 14-year-old freshman, went out and made the Arundel High JV baseball team this spring, but at a meeting with school officials on Thursday she was urged to play softball or tennis.

Rick Wiles, the county's coordinator of physical education, said she could play in the Wildcats' home and season opener Friday against Calvert Hall, which she did. Higher ranking officials, who were out of town, will decide this week whether she can continue.

Old Mill's JV is at Arundel tomorrow.

It's the opinion of the county and Maryland Public Secondary School Athletic Association that girls softball is a comparable sport to baseball satisfying federal requirements for athletic equality.

There are no comparable sports for football in the fall and wrestling in the winter, thus, girls can play.

The county and state allow girls to risk serious injury (there is a pending lawsuit in the state regarding a girl seriously injured after being allowed to play football) and to be thrown to a mat, but girls shouldn't think about hitting a baseball when you can try your luck at whacking a much larger ball.

Becky is currently writing a paper on the differences between softball and baseball. The cleats are different as are pitching distances, distance from base to base, softball pitchers throw underhand, baseball pitchers overhand, and so on.

Becky and her parents, Don and Evelyn Carlson, are not backing down and have contacted the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

"This whole thing is absurd," said Evelyn Carlson. "I wonder if this would be happening had it not been that they told a girl from South River she could not go out for baseball.

"They made a mistake and don't know what to do about it. I feel for the girl from South River, but Becky's case should be dealt with differently. Becky should not have to suffer because of their mistake."

The county physical education department simply does not know what to do with the South River case and was hoping that Becky would graciously bow out of baseball.

As Charley Eckman used to say, "Ain't no way"!

"There's no way I'm playing softball or tennis, I love baseball and worked hard to make this team," Becky said. "I've been playing the game since I was 6 and the guys on the team support me and want me to play. I think it's ridiculous they're trying to convince me not to play."

Evelyn Carlson calls her "a backyard player who knows the game inside and out and loves it. Why wouldn't the county and state be proud of her for making the team. It's such a refreshing story."

Becky has played in the Gambrills rec leagues with the guys all the way to high school. In 1994, she played with a Chuck Morse-coached team that played in the Continental Amateur Baseball Association World Series in Broken Arrow, Okla.

All along it has been her goal to try out for the Arundel baseball team, even while she was winning state youth championships in tennis.

What impresses me about Becky and her parents is that they have already come to the realization that her chances of playing or even making the Arundel varsity down the road are slim. Varsity and JV are like night and day, and it's unlikely that Becky, currently 5-foot-7 and 130 pounds, will be strong enough to play varsity baseball.

This is not a case of someone looking to gain attention by bucking the establishment. It's a case of a young girl who truly loves the game of baseball.

What is more reasonable and fair putting Becky on the softball or tennis team to take the spot of another girl or allowing her to be a reserve outfielder on the JV baseball team?

To his credit, Wiles and the county are merely trying to protect girls sports because by allowing a girl to play baseball, you open the door for a boy to play softball.

There is a solution to all this nonsense. A coach can cut anyone who comes out for a specific team and there is no rule that prevents him from doing so.

If you don't want the aggravation, just make the cut. Becky Carlson did.

Pub Date: 3/24/96

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.