Opening Post on Facebook that generated the discussion: “If a girl can play in a boy sport, then reciprocity is in order.”

K: https://www.tacklesmartsports.com/girls-too/

I’m assuming you’re talking about Vanderbilt’s new kicker. If I’m wrong then totally disregard this. But if you are…

I have a few questions on this, and please understand I’m coming from a place of open conversation.

1. What constitutes American football as a solely male sport other than the fact that the majority of players over history are male? There are no official rules stating it is only for men. Tennis has opened up co-ed doubles and baseball has no restrictions on women playing, although we don’t see it. That being said…

2. If someone has the talent, skill, and stamina to be a participant in a sport that isn’t strictly just male, shouldn’t they be allowed to play if they qualify? If there are no restrictions on gender, and the person is good, they deserve a shot too, right? And if the participant has evaluated all risk factors and still wants to play, why stop them?

3. If the big deal is keeping sports gendered, then where are female options for football? If I had female options for football growing up, I would have loved it!! Why wouldn’t we be pushing for that instead of getting mad when someone takes their opportunity to play what they love? The article I linked is a reflection of this point.

Overall, if there aren’t official gender restrictions (which there aren’t), and someone has the talent to play (which they do), why get upset?

RT: Your assumption is correct. Let me answer each. 1) If the rules are open in one, let them be open in all. 2) If there are no restrictions with regard to gender, should there be? Consider women’s basketball. Should a male be allowed to play in their league? How about a male in track competition with a female? What about UFC events (a barbaric sport)? If one says no, why? 3) When I played football, rugby, wrestled, baseball (high school, college), females were not allowed to play with the males for two primary reasons: size and strength; she is vulnerable in the pile (I was a boy at one time not controlled by virtue). Just as there are anomalies in activities, anomalies are not rules, just out of the ordinary occurrences

K: Okay so let me just say from a personal standpoint, I agree some sports should have gender based off of physicality. I was on swim team, softball, volleyball, and other sports for years, and I understand that men and women have different physicalities, strengths, and weaknesses.

However, I think you would be surprised at just how many women can hold their own in “male-dominated” sports. One of my best friends was a catcher in a travel baseball team and an excellent one at that. I’ve played on co-ed volleyball teams where women could spike on men easily, even though those men could jump higher and hit harder and sometimes react faster. If we are going to go the extremist route and say “let them be open in all” when American football is not even officially closed in the first place, that’s a bit of an outlandish argument. But if we did do that, again, I think you would see that you’ve underestimated the athleticism of a lot of talented people.

In football you are correct, there are no restrictions in regards to gender. But football is multifaceted and many people exercise their talents. If sports are already sequestered off by gender in their official rules, then I’m all for keeping them that way. But you can’t gatekeep a sport that doesn’t have those restrictions in the first place. Or, you could offer gendered events and co-ed events, much like how tennis has been structured, but all recognized on a professional level. If you want to compete in a co-ed event and go toe to toe with those of a same and different gender, by all means. But that is just my proposed solution.

The problem you proposed in your 3rd point makes me very sad. A woman should not be afraid of “boys not controlled by virtue” in any situation, especially a sporting event. I think that’s sad that if I, as a girl, were to play in a co-ed sport, that I would have to worry about that. The problem you’ve proposed is in the hearts of men, not in the actions of women playing something they enjoy. So instead of barring women from a hobby/sport, let’s focus on fixing the hearts of the men around her.

Also I would like an answer to my previous question, but I’ll rephrase it. If we are so concerned about a girl playing a sport that is open to her on the pretense that it is male dominated, why are we not pushing for more options for women, especially in regards to football?

And this question too: If someone has the talent, skill, and ability to play a sport available to them, why get upset? Look at it like this: Baking is a female dominated hobby, right? But I don’t see anyone telling Paul Hollywood (one of the best bakers EVER) that he can’t. He has the skill. He has the talent. He has weighed out the risks and has made a responsible decision to go into that field. So we shouldn’t stop him, right?

Football is a male-dominated hobby, right? Sarah Fuller has the skill. She has the talent. She has weighed out the risks and made a responsible decision to go into that field. So we shouldn’t be stopping her, either.

RT: There is hardly an outlandish argument in what I said, and you know it. Athleticism is not the discussion, for it is clearly the case women and men both have it. If one can’t gate-keep, should a new rule be inserted for there to be a gate-keeper? If not, why? If there is a desire to have co-ed, no problem or resistance from me, but the wisdom of such is another matter. The sadness of your response to my 3rd point is that which permeates society and, this also, you know. You can fix a heart only if a heart wants to be fixed and women are not always virtuous in competitive battles.

The one question you want me to answer – I am not in position to answer. Was there not an effort some years ago to have women football (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women’s_American_football)? Baking may be dominated by females, but the strength and athleticism of male/female plays no role; skill does. Participants are using food objects to make a product, not otherwise.

K: I think many, if not all, would agree that some sports that are officially ruled for reasons on athleticism or otherwise, should remain gendered. Thats why saying “open them all” is outlandish. You are jumping to the most extreme course of action to prove a point. Why not instead have a discourse on what sports could open up and approach it on a realistic spectrum and offer solutions rather than just jumping to the extreme?

There are committees on sports that do make official rules in regards to all aspects, even gender. The gate-keeper argument is for spectators. Who are we, as people who don’t actively play in the league or serve on a board etc. to have indignation towards a player because of gender where gender isn’t even an issue in the sport??

So Ron, as a preacher and a member of the Lord’s church, I know you hate sin. And I’m sure that there are some women who have abused their position in “competitive battles.” But I think its really sad to me that it seems like you are excusing behavior because “not all hearts can be fixed” and turning the situation onto a woman in that scenario.

Also your Wikipedia article said this: “Women primarily play on a semi-professional or amateur level in the United States. Very few high schools or colleges offer the sport solely for women and girls.”

So can you find me a more reliable source to back up a strong active push for women’s opportunities in football? Because the Wikipedia article provided even said there are very few.

And correct. Just as skill plays a big part in football and they’re using the ball (an object) to make a final product in their scoring.

RT: K, you used the word of moral-obligation “should.” With the use of that word, is society obligated to make a distinction between the sexes? If so, from where does this moral obligation come and what is it? If society is not morally obligated, then if what is good for one is also good for all, right?

I do not understand your remarks on gate-keeper. The committees that make official rules do so for what reason or reasons? 

If there are no rules to prevent, then it is open to those who want to take a chance. If this is your point, I understand that and never failed to see it. From the vantage point of one, that does not make the rule good or wise, and it most certainly is not restraining others who might want to take that so-called outlandish approach and go into other areas – all of this, again, you are fully aware.

K, you misread what I wrote, you go back and see if there is even a syllable of anything I said that justifies excusing behavior. Should I attribute to you being naïve that you think these things won’t happen? Moreover, True or False: A heart can’t be fixed if it has no desire to be fixed.

The reference I submitted was not an argument, only a reference to a sport. It conveys the effort of some to have women participation. If there is no sport in a locale, the reasons for that may be clear to some, not others.

Your analogy fails in comparing football with baking. We will have to allow others to see this. There is a difference between apples and oranges. 

Perhaps, since we are becoming long-winded, let us pare down our discussion to one point or question we can flesh out.

K: So instead of having an open conversation on what could open up and solutions, you are hanging on to me saying the word “should?” As a member of the church, I know where my morality and heart lie. When saying the word should, a majority hold the same belief as I do in regards to this. I can only speak for my personal belief of what should be. Which I have done.

Gatekeeping in its current connotation: When someone takes it upon themselves to decide who does or does not have access or rights to a community or identity. We have rules saying she can play. Who are you to say she shouldn’t. That is the point.

That is a trivial question. I’m not a sports board member. But they have the experience, intelligence, aptitude, and therefore the authority to make rules. If you don’t like football being open to women, take your opinion to them and ask them why they allow it. I’m sure they’d give you a much better response then I can.

Instead of saying “yeah, let’s not have boys who would do that to girls on teams” you instead went for the argument “you can’t fix people who don’t want to be” and “girls misuse power too.” Put some accountability on the mens’ shoulders instead of diverting. You can call me naive if you want, however many would be right there with me in saying men need consequences if they act out so women can be safe. Your statement is true. But don’t just leave it at that.

Well, the reference was given was to show the effort in womens football, and even the article claimed it was very little. It just showed the limited progress and proved the point we need to fight for more for our women.

I guess we will see differently on that one, but in my eyes, the two situations are very similar.

While you are entitled to your views Mr. Thomas, I’m sure Vanderbilt is very proud to have Miss Fuller as a kicker on their team.

She has talent. She has skill. She is a grown woman who can play in a nongenderrestricted sport, amd we should be supportive and excited that she gets the chance to pursue her passion, because not many girls are lucky enough to do that in football.

RT: This is an open conversation that has a trajectory you don’t like. Be that as it may, let me address the tone and words of your last post.

Wow! You use a word and take exception to me asking you about that word. You know your personal morality, but when the word “should” is used in communication, especially in secular society, Ms. Erin, I insist the moral-obligation needs to be set forth. You did not set it forth, you only declared or asserted it.

Since the word gate-keeper is one who control access, what prevents gate-keepers from opening access to other positions on the field? If they have the experience, intelligence, aptitude, to make rules, then the same qualities allow them to alter those rules in order to allow further access to their desired ends, and they “should” do so. If it is good for one sport and any position on the field, diamond, and court, it is good for all.

If my statement is true and men should not act out (“should” is used on purpose), then how do you expect them (females) to not suffer the consequences of a decision made? Penalize the men, kick them out of the game, put them in jail – what do you propose be done? If a man’s heart has no desire to change, will artificial restraints make him change?

Accountability? What kind of remark is that! Accountability has a legal ramification, a moral ramification and a consequential ramification. Accountability goes both ways and, again, there is not an ounce of truth in this remark “Put some accountability on the mens’ shoulders instead of diverting.”

Let the many be where you are at; it matters not where the many are, even on practical roads that lead to other ends. I am sure there are some at the university that are proud of this and many other things.

K: This makes me really sad, especially as a Christian. I have really tried to remain neutral, propose my solutions, and have an open discourse.

Mr. Thomas, its clear that instead of reaching a place of understanding that you just want to argue. You haven’t proposed a single solution, and that’s especially disappointing. The fact that you, an older Christian, let alone preacher in the faith, are so argumentative and belittling to fellow Christians on Facebook breaks my heart. I really truly tried to remain neutral and have a good conversation, but thats clearly off the table. God has blessed you with a position of responsibility in the church, and you did not exercise it well in this conversation. If I were not a member of the church, after your last comment it would not lead me to Christ.

The point that bothers me the most and really shocks me is that you have refused to say once throughout this entire thing that men should be held accountable. Instead you’ve let them slide under the pretense of “can’t fix all hearts,” “women do it to,” and “accountability goes both ways.” While all true statements, you have REFUSED to just say: “Yes men taking advantage is wrong. There should be consequences for those actions, in life and in sports.” If all men in the church flat out refuse to speak up for women, then it’s a sad day for the church indeed.

The problems you have can be taken up with the authorities on sports and rules, etc. Take it to them if this is such a deep seeded issue for you.

Sure we are not going to agree on this. I have tried to reach an understanding with you, but again, its clear you just want to dispute.

I do wish you would have proposed solutions to the problem instead of stoking flames to it and nitpicking terminology.

(And also little sidebar specific to football: you have not been to able to deny Sarah Fuller’s talent. I think that speaks volumes.)

I will be shaking the dust off my feet from this conversation, and will be removing you from Facebook. However, I will still pray for you and love you as my brother in Christ.

One final thing, Mr. Thomas. In the conversation I was pushing towards, I was hopeful that we would have reached a point of understanding on both sides. The conversation you made it to be left me with a profound sadness for you. I really truly pray that next time you can stand up and be a positive support for women, especially your sisters in Christ.

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RT: K, it is evident you had a desired response, and my response was not what you intended. You wanted to bring me to a conclusion and since I did not arrive at that conclusion, you accuse me of arguing.

You accuse me of justifying inappropriate behavior, diverting attention from the issue, belittling a fellow Christian, arguing, and not exercising well my position of responsibility – none of which is true, not even a little bit true. Since you have falsely accused me of so much wrong, I insist you demonstrate all of this. If you can’t or won’t, it will be known what you’ve done.

When my proposed solution is offered, and you know this, it was only different than your own; you don’t like it so you accuse me of many untoward remarks. I am an older Christian and I am a preacher, but you can’t find a single thing I said that is contrary to the spirit of Christ or was disparaging to you in any way. All you have is that my perspective is different than your own. Nothing more.

This discussion will have to be read by others and conclusions reached by the reader.

You are not neutral, K; you have not been throughout this discussion, but then, I was not expecting you to be. You’re an independent thinker and you wanted to make a case for your perspective. You did not persuade me. Others will have to read and conclude on their own with regard to the merits of your effort.

You said my last comment would not lead you to Christ. Very well, what in my last comment was not in the spirit of Christ or that is adversarial to the words/spirit of the Lord? Here are the last two comments I made, “Let the many be where you are at; it matters not where the many are, even on practical roads that lead to other ends. I am sure there are some at the university that are proud of this and many other things.”

K, do you know what a “straw man” is? If so, you built up a straw man. This angers me a great deal! Not only do you falsely accuse (or lie), but you add to it with this: “…you have REFUSED to just say: “Yes men taking advantage is wrong.”

I am glad this discussion is on social media; others will see what they need to see. I invite you, K, to cut/paste this discussion and submit it to elders anywhere and ask their opinions about the nature of my presentation to you.

Deep seeded? It’s no longer that I have a perspective, it’s that I have a deep seeded issue.

K, as you do a hit and run by unfriending me – have as you will. This conversation is posted on more than one medium. So, shake off the dust, pat yourself on the back and be sure to tell others you have slayed a preacher; this is what you desired to do, evidently.

As far as I am aware, she unfriended me on Facebook because of this conversation. What angered me most about this discussion was not her lack of substance (hit and miss), but that she lied continually in ascribing to me things that were not so; I called her on it, she refused to give attention to it. I post this for any and all to see a young woman with an agenda-driven position, not anything remotely close to an open dialogue.