Arguing For The Straight Cap: Why It’s Okay For Gay Softball Leagues To Exclude Straight Guys
So you're a gay guy in a gay recreational softball league. Your team makes it to the semifinals, but you lose. The team you lost to has three or four very good players who made some key plays that led to your defeat. You want to move on from the loss (this is a recreational league, after all), but you can't shake this weird feeling you have. Something about these three or four really good players seems a bit... off.
You're not as familiar with them as you are with the other guys on that team; you haven't seen them around the gay bars you frequent, and they don't travel in any of the gay social circles you're familiar with. You're not 100% positive, but you think one of the girls in the crowd was cheering louder than everyone else when one of them got that key hit in the sixth inning. You're pretty sure you saw them holding hands for a brief second after the game.
Your suspicion has reached its breaking point.
You've been defeated by straight ringers.
The "straight cap," the sometimes exclusionary practice of limiting the number of straight players in gay rec leagues, is the hot topic in today's New York Times. Some leagues, like the National Gay Flag Football League, have loosely enforced straight caps (the NGFFL's "each roster can be made up of a maximum of 20% heterosexuals" rule is based on the honor system).
In other leagues, the straight cap is stricter: after a somewhat intrusive set of interviews, the Gay Softball World Series in Seattle actually determined a team had too many straight players, and stripped them of their second place finish. Lawsuits ensued, but in the end, a judge ruled that the league had a right to limit the number of straight players it allowed in.
The question is: is a gay sports league's decision to exclude some straight players just as bad as if, say, a softball work league of Manhattan finance guys had a "only two gays per team" rule? As I got ready for work this morning, my roommate made the argument that a gay league excluding straight players is just as bad as if the reverse happened.
On paper, this sounds good. Everyone should be held to the same rules of moral conduct, and if a team full of straight guys wants to play in a gay league, why not? Everyone should be included, because the league itself is based on inclusiveness, right?
Not really. A gay softball league isn't necessarily about inclusiveness, just like an ethnic student group on a largely white college campus isn't about inclusiveness. It's about giving a group of people who feel like they're excluded from something, whether outright or in a subtler way, a place where they're not only included, but they rule. Without a straight cap, gay softball leagues are just... regular softball leagues.
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