People take children’s sports way too seriously

Some of you may have seen this item about a girls soccer team being disqualified from the finals of a tournament because Mili Hernandez, an 8-year old girl with short hair, was suspected to be a boy even though she was not.

The Springfield club told WOWT that a misprint in the team’s roster identified Mili as a boy. Her family brought several forms of identification, including her insurance card and a doctor’s physical form, to prove she’s a girl, but the team was still disqualified.

Teach coach Mario Torres told KMTV in Omaha that tournament officials did not handle a clerical mistake properly.

“Even if it was a mistake, they did not need to humiliate her or kick the entire team off the field,” Torres said.

The tournament officials later apologized, saying that “the soccer club’s decision to disqualify Mili’s team does not represent the association’s core values of teamwork and inclusion.”

On one level, what surprises me about this is that the officials felt that they needed to summarily disqualify the team based purely on their suspicions, and before any investigation.

But at a deeper level, this also shows how absurdly seriously we take children’s sports. Even if officials suspected that there was a gender misrepresentation, surely they could have given her the benefit of the doubt and let the finals go ahead while they investigated? It is not the greatest tragedy in the world if an 8-year old boy had played on a team with 11-year old girls. Get a grip, people!

Here is a news item about the story.


  1. Chiroptera says

    Mano Singham: On one level, what surprises me about this is that the officials felt that they needed to summarily disqualify the team based purely on their suspicions, and before any investigation.

    My gut reaction is this is probably an example of transgender hysteria.

    Probably with a big dose of racism thrown in.

  2. kestrel says

    Although yes, I agree -- people do indeed take children’s sports way too seriously, I’m with Chiroptera here.

    Sure, I’ve seen “adults” screaming at a coach for Little League over nothing, take away a blue ribbon from a child at a horse show because they are suspected to be Not Local Kids, and other demonstrations of how the person doing the vile act is actually a reprehensible jerk. And what kind of an asshole do you have to be to pick on a child? But I do suspect this has more to do with other issues.

  3. says

    Ugg…it’s hard to know what to say here. I find gender segregation for sports to be a bit of a catch-22. On the one hand, having such segregation puts transgender individuals in a jam, and that’s bad. On the other, women do face a biological disadvantage, on average, when it comes to sports and, given that women still face so much discrimination in society, it’s hard to say “No” to segregated sports because doing so has so much potential to leave many women out of sports entirely. (Sometimes leagues will try to have a minimum requirement of women for a team, but I’ve seen those as difficult to maintain. In part, this is because there will be very athletic men who will play selfishly, discouraging those who are not as athletic from playing. Again, on average, this impacts women more. And, I suspect, not just because of ability alone but because of a society that suggests women shouldn’t be playing sports with men…which is another prong of this catch-22: segregating sports helps enforce that suggestion, even if that is not the intent.)

    I will note, though, from my experience as a youth soccer referee, most, if not all, of the U12 girls teams around here should be able to defeat any of the U10 boys teams.

    Mano, on another note, the “Preview” button was not working for me. Perhaps that is another bug from the move?

  4. says

    If people are taking 8-year-olds’ sports that seriously, it’s not “childrens’ sports” -- it’s “parents treating children like trophy trading cards.” It’s “adult’s sports” in other words.

  5. enkidu says

    Sounds like another of the officious bullies that made me hate team sports from a young age.
    Actually I really logged in just to see if I could. Yay, FTB now HTTPS.

  6. jrkrideau says

    Well, no criminal assaults, charges laid or parents escorted to the parking lot by police. Seems tame to me but I am used to hearing stories about minor league hockey in Canada.

  7. lanir says

    I think some adlults are damaged in ways that leave them desperately grasping for control in any area of life they can get it. Two of the few ways our society apparently allows people to express this are with pets and with children. I think most of these damaged adults favor children for this because while intimidating a child they can also communicate what they want. Animals won’t understand what’s happening to them and get stuck in a loop responding to how unfair it is.

    Aside from the above, I bet if asked the adults making this ruling would have had very strong opinions on which bathroom the 8 year old should be using.

  8. Acolyte of Sagan says

    My then 10 year-old daughter was told that she would no longer be allowed to play football (UK, proper round ball game) with the boys during P.E. lessons because the boys were complaining that she was too tough when tackling and was hurting them.

  9. ivo says

    women do face a biological disadvantage

    At that age?

    Indeed. I remember fighting against girls in my weigh category during judo tournaments until the age of 12 or 13, and not feeling particularly advantaged by my maleness.

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