Behind Gov. Kristi Noem's Hedge on Legislation Guaranteeing Girls-Only Sporting Contests

Behind Gov. Kristi Noem's Hedge on Legislation Guaranteeing Girls-Only Sporting Contests
AP Photo/John Raoux

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem published a long string of tweets explaining — to the extent that is possible on Twitter — reasons why she was not yet prepared to sign legislation passed by the South Dakota legislature intended to guarantee that girls/women in South Dakota would have the opportunity to compete on all-female sports activities against other teams comprised only of females.

Please excuse me for not including all the various qualifiers and details that seem to be seeping into the public consciousness on this question, and my use of “slurs” like the term “biological male.

For purposes of this article, “girls are girls” and “boys are boys” — “xx” and “xy” and all that stuff. “Societal constructs”  — to put it politely — of gender definitions are not employed here. I find that historical definitions of “boys” and “girls” are sufficient to suit my purposes.

Gov. Noem received quite a lot of initial criticism from groups and individuals on the right for her reluctance to simply sign the legislation as drafted and passed by the legislature. I do not have any information on how active members of her administration were in the drafting of the final language, but I’m certain it did not come as a surprise to her and her staff.

In fact, it seems that her reluctance to sign the legislation as passed stems from the feedback she has received from sources outside South Dakota on how the legislation might be received by interests outside the state — both corporate and others.

What can be gleaned from the various individual tweets put out by Noem? My reading of her comments is that they suggest some significant amount of feedback on what might happen to the state university sports teams in South Dakota at the hands of the NCAA.

The NCAA has created within its structure an “Office of Inclusion.”

Need I say more?

The NCAA has produced a 38-page policy statement on the inclusion of transgender athletes in NCAA sports competitions. Here are “Guiding Principles”:

Policies governing the participation of transgender student-athletes should be informed by the following principles, and be included in the institution’s transgender student-athlete policy statement:
1. Participation in intercollegiate athletics is a valuable part of the education experience for all students.
2. Transgender student-athletes should have equal opportunity to participate in sports.
3. The integrity of women’s sports should be preserved.
4. Policies governing sports should be based on sound medical knowledge and scientific validity.
5. Policies governing sports should be objective, workable, and practicable; they should also be written, available and equitably enforced.
6. Policies governing the participation of transgender students in sports should be fair in light of the tremendous variation among individuals in strength, size, musculature, and ability.
7. The legitimate privacy interests of all student-athletes should be protected.
8. The medical privacy of transgender students should be preserved.
9. Athletics administrators, staff, parents of athletes, and student-athletes should have access to sound and effective educational resources and training related to the participation of transgender and gender-variant students in athletics.
10. Policies governing the participation of transgender students in athletics should comply with state and federal laws protecting students from discrimination based on sex, disability, and gender identity and expression.

Number 10 effectively warns-off states from excluding transgender athletes’ participation in sports, according to their self-professed “gender identity.”  Where a state takes such a step — which the NCAA will view as a violation of federal law on the subject — that state’s athletic teams are at risk of non-compliance with NCAA rules.

Why do I suspect this is a reason behind Gov. Noem’s expression of reluctance?  Here is what she wrote on Twitter:

She is bending to the reality that the NCAA could sanction South Dakota universities obligated to follow South Dakota law, should she sign the legislation as written to include university athletics.

The NCAA has pointed to laws in Idaho and North Carolina as excuses to pull NCAA sanctioned events from those states. The next step in forcing compliance with the NCAA’s policy would be to preclude teams from offending states from participating in NCAA sanctioned events.

The NCAA is not a government body. It is nothing more than an “Association” — a voluntary membership organization of colleges and universities who AGREE to belong as members, and by virtue of that agreement make themselves subject to the rules and policies of the “Association” adopted by the members.

This means that the largest and richest colleges and universities in the country — the “citadels” and founding principals of “awokeness” in American society — dictate the terms of participation in the sporting events sanctioned by the NCAA.

Nothing prevents colleges and universities from withdrawing from the NCAA. In fact, the idea of withdrawing has been a topic of discussion by the major football-playing conferences — a move to create a separate association, conduct a national championship event, and keep all the revenue from such an exercise themselves without having to share the money with smaller, NCAA member schools who don’t participate.

But while the NCAA exists and is dominated by liberal institutions like the University of Michigan, UC Berkeley, etc., Gov. Noem can’t ignore the potential consequences to the University of South Dakota and South Dakota State if she signed the legislation as written.  The girls/women playing on athletic teams at those schools might be made to pay the price by the NCAA.

There is always the aspect of “political reality” that politicians cannot simply ignore at the demands of the advocates and zealots.  Some issues can only be addressed incrementally because of the alignment of forces on the opposing side.

The tide on transgender participation will turn when suburban moms and dads come to fully realize — through experience — how their daughters will be made to suffer as a result of growing up when parents of little boys wanting to indulge their “wokeness” on society guide their sons into roles involving gender fluidity and take opportunities away from the girls.

As for the NCAA, let’s wait to see how advocates for Title IX and the right of women to compete in college athletics react when individual athletic events begin to be dominated by transgender participants.

I read recently that the times of the top 300 high school boys participating in the 400-meter track event at the high school level are faster than the NCAA women’s record in that same event.

Let’s see if the NCAA member schools are as happy with their “inclusivity” rules in practice as they are with them in print.

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