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opinion columns
by Richard Harris

From the February 10, 2021 issue of The Journal
   The national media has been abuzz with stories and commentary on President Joe Biden's flurry of executive orders, including one that calls on schools to allow biological males to be able to compete in girls sports if they are transgender (identify as girls).
   It has been praised by many as a move toward inclusion and as a way to battle discrimination against transgendered individuals.
   The order has been interpreted as a strong signal that the US Justice Department is going to enforce it via Title IX, with schools that don't comply risking the loss of federal funding.
   The Title IX tie-in seems strange, as its purpose was to ensure that females had equal opportunities with males (including in sports). How allowing biological males to compete against females is supposed to help girls/women is beyond my comprehension.
   For anyone who may be thinking I'm a backward Neanderthal, consider the fact that many accomplished female athletes agree.
   Martina Navratilova, one of the greatest female athletes of all time, who won 18 tennis Grand Slams, says the physical advantage for transgender women who have gone through puberty are "pretty obvious" and that it would not be a level playing field.
   Regardless of what becomes of the issue, I'd like to suggest another cause for President Biden to take up that would close a real gap between male and female athletic opportunities.
   In July 2019, Jordan Gray set an American record in the women's decathlon while competing for Kennesaw State University. She'd like to have a shot at an Olympic medal as a decathlete, but she can't.
   Why? Because the Olympics only has the decathlon for men. Women are relegated to the heptathlon, which has only 7 events (instead of 10). There is no logical reason for this, as it was set up many years ago when the conventional wisdom was that women couldn't handle that many events.
   It's hogwash. It's discriminatory. It's time for it to be changed.
   Jordan, and other well-rounded, dedicated, and talented female athletes around the world, should have the same opportunity as men to compete in the Olympics for the unofficial title of "Greatest Athlete in the World."
   Jordan has started a petition about the issue. I probably wouldn't even know about it if not for the fact that her father, Jeff, was one of my roommates many years ago at West Georgia College.
   Jeff played college baseball, while his future wife Jackie (Jordan's mom) played college softball. They passed their athletic talent down to their daughter, whose combination of genes and incredible work ethic have lifted her to great heights in track and field.
   However, while she's won many competitions, there's a glass ceiling holding her down. She's hoping one of her accomplishments will be smashing the barrier.
   I know the United States can't unilaterally change Olympic rules, but I'm pretty sure the bully pulpit of the US Presidency could make a huge impact.
   Regardless of what President Biden may or may not do, you can help. Please consider signing the petition by clicking here and then typing "Olympic Decathlon Jordan Gray" in the search bar.