Friday, February 15, 2008

The Catholics don't want women in charge of anything

The title is a little general and I am sure does not apply to all Catholic institutions everywhere but I think this story* about a Catholic academy's refusal to let a woman referee a boys' basketball game speaks volumes; mostly about the strong connection--one we often refuse to see unless it smacks us in the face--between religion and sport.
Well this one was of the smacking variety. The school, St. Mary's Academy in Kansas City, MO (apparently it's okay to name your school after a woman so long as no actual, living women are able to exert too much power within it) would not speak to reporters about why they would not let referee Michelle Campbell work the game but according to other referees a woman in a position of authority over boys was against the academy's beliefs. [The story notes that this is not your run-of-the-mill Catholic school; they adhere to older (read more discriminatory and reactionary) versions of Catholicism and are run by the Society of St. Pius X whose former leader was excommunicated by Pope John Paul II. I think you get the picture.]
One of the amazing things about this story--after you get over the whole they aren't letting women--the people that frequently raise and teach boys--have positions of authority over boys is that Campbell's fellow referees refused to call the game when they heard what was happening. Others who were not there that night have said they will not ref games at the school under such circumstances. The Kansas State High School Activities Association is looking into the situation but a representative said that if this is a written policy then the school will not be allowed to compete against member institutions in the future.
The idea of sanctions do not seem to phase St. Mary's though. In 2004 they forfeited a football game because they did not want to play against a team that had a girl on its roster.

*I received word of this story twice yesterday: once on the women's studies listserv I subscribe to and again from the sport sociology listserv. It makes me happy when so many people see the potential teaching moments in sport and especially a story about sport, gender, and religion. The feminists didn't write it off to that evil patriarchal sport system and the sport sociologists see it as a key example of a gender discrimination that deserves analysis.


Anonymous said...

My children attend St. Mary's Academy and, AS USUAL, the MEDIA distorts the True picture.

Anonymous said...

Check-out the SSPX press release, speaking for the St. Mary's Academy on SPREAD THE WORD IN THE WORLD OF MEDIA!!!!!!

Diane said...

I read the news release, and I fail to see the "distortion." A referee is not there to "train" or "teach," but to call the game. Not permitting a person to call a game because of her gender is gender discrimination.

But even if you stretch the definition of "referee" to say that a referee's very presence somehow instructs those on the court, the obvious question is: Why can't boys receive instruction in fairness, sportsmanship and conduct from a woman?

Either way, there is no distortion.

Anonymous said...


So what you are saying is that THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MEN AND WOMEN?

And about that scary phrase : "Gender discrimination"
People discriminate (oh, yes, everyday) in each and every decision they make in life. Did I discriminate against women when I chose to marry a man and not a woman? WE ALL DISCRIMINATE.

Is there something wrong with having an all mens/boys sports program? Until this more modern period in history..this was ALWAYS considered normal and healthy. What is asking for trouble is to mix the men and women in sports......that is asking for trouble, including one of the most menacing problems in this country, namely, divorce..........I could go on and on..............

Diane said...

"So what you are saying is that THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MEN AND WOMEN?"

In terms of their ability to referee a sports event? No--there is no difference. That's what we're discussing, anon--their ability to referee a sports event, remember?

Anonymous said...


No one said that women do not have the ABILITY to referee a sporting event. The Academy never even said that. The question is: IS IT PROPER for women to referee an organized BOY/MENS sporting event?

That is the issue.

And you never answered my question asking: Is there anything wrong with having an all mens/boys sports program?

Anonymous said...

I guess "Ken" doesn't have anything else to say.

Ken, give women back the dignity they once had in society and let men have their has nothing to do with women do not have authority over boys(or over men, depending on the circumstance). By the way, I personally know Fr. Vicente Griego, the Dean of the Academy, and he said that it is not an issue of women not having authority over boys.(If a school rep. said that, they did not represent the school acurately. St. Mary's College (a four year liberal art curriculum) actually has WOMEN PROFESSORS! How the media distorts everything!

And the part about being "excommunicated": A WHOLE OTHER STORY.

According to the Dogmas(teachings) of the Church(but no one cares to study those too close)The SSPX would not be excommunicated. There are even high Vatican officials, even Cardinals very close to the Pope, who have been quoted as saying that.

The media needs to get their stories straight.

Diane said...

"IS IT PROPER for women to referee an organized BOY/MENS sporting event? That is the issue."

Anon, I'm going to assume that for all the decades that girls and women had only men refereeing their sports events, you were visiting your Congresspeople, writing letters to the editor, organizing, and engaging in public protests. You did a good job, and as a woman, I thank you. Because that was not "proper"--the system did not permit qualified women to referee girls' and women's games.

Now that the system does permit women to referee, it is--once again--not "proper" to again deny them the right to do so. That is called gender discrimination. Now, men may referee women's and girls' events, and women may referee men's and boys' events, which is as it should be, since there are only two types of referees--competent and incompetent, and those qualities have nothing whatsoever to do with gender.

"And you never answered my question asking: Is there anything wrong with having an all mens/boys sports program?"

There is nothing wrong with it at all as long as equally funded and staffed all women's/girls' sports programs are part of the plan.

Anonymous said...

Diane, I am proud of you.

We do agree on something. It is OK for there to be all men/boys sports programs and a seperate all women/girls sports program. It is quite an accomplishment for a conservative Catholic WOMAN and a liberal to agree.

If you want a seperate issue of whether it is proper for men to referee women's/girl's games, we can do that.

That is improper too. But that was not the original question at hand.

Ask any HONEST man if he would find it pleasurable(you see the picture) of watching women run up and down a court in shorts with all the "action" that entails.

YES, THAT IS IMPROPER. And things like that are the cause of much degredation of women in our society. Being a woman, I have come to see that it is harder for women to understand that.......but the men know what I am talking about.

Anonymous said...

uhm.........where is Ken??

Anonymous said...

First of all, the story is from Kansas, not Missouri, & I am originally from Kansas & my Mom attended St. Mary's (then College) University way back when no lay people taught there so obviously, all the instructors/professors were nuns. This St. Mary's Academy is NOT the same institution.
Next, as far as women 'being a position of authority over boys'? Are you kidding me?!?! What are teachers, nurses, doctors, professors, the list could go on & on & on where boys are trained or taught by women. I can go even further w/potting training by their mothers.
Needless to say, no matter what the first poster commented about AS USUAL the MEDIA distorted the True picture: a qualified woman was not allowed to blow her whistle & become a subjective evaluator of a non-life-or-death event. The Dean may say what he wants now; however, the male referees would not even work the game after hearing what was going on.

Anonymous said...

I don't know who this last anonymous is......but I am anonymous #1 and did not just say that.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous #2 makes no sense. He needs to re-read carefully everything that has been written.........anonymous#1