Decision by Pocatello wrestling coach shows hatred of women

From Michael’s Desk:


www.michaelrstrickland.com


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The following column was written by Bill Schaefer, a photographer and writer for the Idaho State Journal. It appears in today’s journal.

“Mr. Armstrong’s recent attempts to discourage young women from trying out for his wrestling team are sad and pathetic examples of misogynist attitudes that should be expunged at least within the hallways of School District 25,” Schaefer writes.
From Michael’s Desk:


www.michaelrstrickland.com


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The following column was written by Bill Schaefer, a photographer and writer for the Idaho State Journal.

Opportunity for new era in sports lost


by Bill Schaefer

What are the traits that make a good teacher? Each of us have our memories of teachers that inspired us or showed us the importance of learning, be it a math teacher opening your mind to understanding the intricacies of Algebra, an English teacher sharing their love of Mark Twain or Ernest Hemingway or the coach who pushes you to give 100 percent and then more.

Caring, compassionate, inspiring, subtle disciplinarian, leader, mentor. Teachers are like sculptors, given the raw material of the young person and helping to mold them while equipping students, these leaders of the future, with necessary tools to bring their own unique focus and perspective to their unlimited future.

It is unfortunate when you encounter a teacher who will put the brakes on any student’s aspirations but that is just what we have witnessed in the School District 25 community.

A little over two weeks ago the Journal reported on a pair of Irving Middle School students, girls, who wanted to try our for the wrestling team. but felt the coach, Clayton Armstrong, was not only reluctant but hostile toward women wrestlers. If you haven’t been reading recent letters to the editor, you’ve missed a wave of support for Mr. Armstrong’s position.

Along with teaching mathematics Clayton Armstrong is the Irving Middle School athletic director and wrestling coach. No one is disputing Mr. Armstrong’s desire for his student’s well-being nor his right to express his own opinions, but Mr. Armstrong should also be cognizant of the leadership role he plays as teacher and coach among the students.

I’ve met Clayton Armstrong, I won’t profess to know him as well as the letters to the editor writers but I think I know him well enough to say that I don’t doubt that he truly cares about his students, particularly his male wrestlers. If there is one thing that defines Mr. Armstrong it is wrestling. He has been an active and vocal proponent of the sport, and that is meritorious and has made our community a better place.

However, Mr. Armstrong’s recent attempts to discourage young women from trying out for his wrestling team are sad and pathetic examples of misogynist attitudes that should be expunged at least within the hallways of School District 25.

One of the examples Mr. Armstrong cited was a girl wrestler from a couple years past. She was the only girl wrestler and Mr. Armstrong found it not only awkward but humiliating for boys to wrestle against her. Point well taken, but this time there was more than one girl, according to the parents of one girl, there were four girls that wanted to wrestle. With four girls, even with two girls, Mr. Armstrong would have been able to have them compete against each other.

Here is an opportunity for Mr. Armstrong to be a leader, a trailblazer in women’s athletics. In an ideal world, there would be separate wrestling teams for boys and girls but we don’t live in an ideal world.

Many of Mr. Armstrong’s supporters cite girl’s volleyball as an example of discrimination against boys that want to participate in the sport. If there are boys that want to play volleyball, let them, or find the means to accommodate their athletic participation. There was a news report last month of a boy playing on a girl’s volleyball team in Texas.

If we use discrimination in one area as a means to justify and rationalize discrimination in another area where will it end?

Wouldn’t it have been prudent to discuss with the parents of the girls the problems the coach has with girl wrestlers? Together the coach and the parents might have been able to find resolution and bridge the past problems thereby opening a new era of athletic participation in School District 25.

Bill Schaefer is a photographer and writer for the Idaho State Journal.