Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Girls and the Little League

An obituary of Judge Sylvia Pressler reminds us of some recent history: NJ Judge Who Opened Little League to Girls Dies

"While serving as a hearing examiner with New Jersey's Division on Civil Rights, Pressler ruled that a 12-year-old northern New Jersey girl should have been allowed to play on a Little League team.
''The institution of Little League is as American as the hot dog and apple pie,'' Pressler wrote in a sharply worded opinion. ''There is no reason why that part of Americana should be withheld from girls.''
The ruling was decried by Little League as ''conceived in vindictive and prejudicial fashion of the worst kind,'' but it was upheld on appeal, and New Jersey became the first state to bar sex discrimination in Little League.
By the following year, Little League amended its charter to allow girls and also created a softball division."
"The Little League case reached Pressler in 1973. Maria Pepe, a 12-year-old Hoboken resident, had played three games for her Little League team the year before but stopped when Little League's national office threatened to revoke the league's charter. The National Organization for Women filed a lawsuit on her behalf.
Pressler said his wife didn't consider the Little League case one of her more difficult decisions, despite its ramifications and the publicity surrounding it.
''It was an important case because of its timing,'' he said. ''But it was perfectly obvious to her that they were completely cockeyed in barring girls if they were physically able.'' "

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