As a bill that could lead the way to banning transgender athletes in Texas high school sports comes closer to law, some area wrestling coaches confess feeling two ways about the potential measure.
Yes, it would even the playing field, some say.
But none like the idea of barring athletes.
“I’ve gotten the impression from a lot of other coaches that there is nothing discriminatory other than people just want to make sure there is a level playing field,” Southlake Carroll coach Jeff Hathaway said. “I would like to see a level playing field for all of our kids who are working hard.”
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Senate Bill 2095, sponsored by state Sen. Bob Hall (R-Canton), would give the UIL the discretion to make athletes ineligible if steroid use — prescribed or not — provides an advantage or affects safety.
Steroids are widely used in treatment for transgender patients, so the bill is of particular interest in high school wrestling because a transgender boy won a state championship wrestling against girls last season. Mack Beggs said he wanted to compete in the boys division, but UIL rules said he had to compete in the division of his birth sex.
I don’t know if this has any teeth to it. It sure seems like to me that it’s an answer to one question, that one kid.
Terry Wright, Chisholm Trail coach
Beggs and the UIL came under criticism as his story drew wide attention in February, sparked by a lawsuit filed by a parent to keep Beggs out of the competition.
“I have absolutely no problem with people making a transition; the athlete in question is a great kid,” said a coach at an area school, requesting anonymity to avoid offending his superiors. “I do think there is an unfair advantage when somebody is taking steroids. And that is the biggest issue. He is getting an unfair advantage against girls. Do I think they should make it to where he cannot compete? No, I do not. I think he should be able to compete against boys.”
The Senate bill does not make allowances for whether the steroids are taken legally or illegally, for medical purposes or not or with or without a prescription. It would require the athlete to notify the UIL of the steroid use, and leave the decision to the UIL about whether to ban the athlete because of an unfair advantage or safety.
“On the surface, it’s probably the right thing. It would level the playing field. My question is where do they draw the line?” Chisholm Trail coach Terry Wright said. “How are they going to go about it? An inhaler is a steroid, for example. How are they going to go about enforcing this? I don’t know if this has any teeth to it. It sure seems like to me that it’s an answer to one question, that one kid.”
When they walk in, they’re wrestlers. That’s the way I look at it. A wrestler’s a wrestler.
Jim Schee, Keller coach
Keller coach Jim Schee, a 20-year coaching veteran in his 13th year at Keller, said the issue is a non-issue to him because of his wrestling background.
“To me, a wrestler is a wrester,” he said. “I’m from Missouri. They don’t have separated boys and girls wrestling. The girls on my team, I don’t treat them any differently than the boys on my team. When they walk in, they’re wrestlers. That’s the way I look at it. A wrestler’s a wrestler.”