Sierra Harr might be too good for her own good.
The 16-year-old high school junior has succeeded at all levels of high school golf in Idaho. As a freshman she won the individual girls' state title for schools with fewer than 160 students. Last year there weren't enough girls at Castleford High School to field a team, so Harr competed with the boys. No matter, as Harr finished seventh in the state tournament and helped her team take the 2A crown in May.
But Harr's success hasn't been met with enthusiasm among all of Idaho's high school coaches. Some have argued that it is unfair to allow Harr to compete with the boys as well as as an individual in the girls' tournament. And now, high school officials are considering banning her from competing with boys.
"When this started, I only wanted to play golf," Harr told The Associated Press. "But I really started to believe that women should be given the same opportunity as men. I kind of became a feminist."
In deciding Harr's case, Idaho officials say they are taking into account the fairness of all athletes.
"There aren't any villains here," said Greg Bailey, the president of the Idaho High School Activities Association. "We try to look at things from a fairness perspective, fairness for that individual athlete as well as fairness for the other athletes involved. The question is, is she bumping out a boy? And if she wins in the competition, did she bump out a boy in the other school district?"
The group's decision may be made easier by the fact that denying Harr the opportunity to compete on a team could involve bucking a crucial tenant of Title IX. The landmark piece of legislation states that girls cannot be denied the same educational experiences that boys receive. Nancy Hogshead-Makar, a former Olympian who now practices law and teaches at Florida Coastal School of Law, told the Associated Press that competing on a team does indeed provide a different educational experience than competing as an individual.
Harr's case won't be decided for several weeks. And her appeal will be moot if enough girls show up for a team in the spring.
(H/T to Off The Bench)