Jessica: Fourteen-year-old Keeling Pilaro loves playing field hockey.
Keeling Pilaro: It’s just so much fun.
Jessica: Keeling was born in the U.S. but raised in Ireland, where the sport is very popular. When he returned to New York, he found out boys don’t play field hockey — girls do. So, Keeling needed special permission from Section XI, the group that regulates high school sports on Long Island, New York. And he had to wear a skirt like the rest of his teammates.
Keeling: My friends will make jokes about it. But, like, they’re not mean jokes. They’re, like, sarcastic, funny jokes. Like, I laugh along.
Jessica: Last season, Keeling was good enough to make the varsity squad as an eighth grader but this spring, Section XI officials decided to kick him out.
“The group believed that Keeling’s advanced field hockey skills had adversely affected the opportunity of females to play the sport. In other words, he got too good.”
Jessica: Keeling’s parents appealed the decision.
“We feel he’s been — being — discriminated against based on his sex, because he’s not the best player on the team, he’s not the fastest, he’s certainly not the strongest.”
Jessica: Cynthia Augello is a lawyer who has handled similar cases for boys and girls.
“While he’s out there playing, some female is sitting on the bench that wouldn’t have been sitting on the bench otherwise.”
Jessica: Teammates, teachers, even opposing players campaigned to keep Keeling on the team. And it worked. Yesterday, the athletics committee ruled that Keeling, the boy who is “too good,” can keep playing.
Jessica Kumari, Channel One News.
- If you were Keeling Pilaro’s friend, what advice would you give him about being the only boy who plays field hockey?