ATL team wins World Series appeal

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A team from the Hotlanta Softball League at the center of a controversy from the Gay Softball World Series will keep its second place finish.

The Atlanta Mudcats finished second in the top division of the series, held in late August in Seattle. But they moved to that spot only after filing a protest contesting the number of straight players on D2, a team from the San Francisco Gay Softball League that beat the Mudcats to move into the championship game. The North American Gay Amateur Athletic Association upheld the protest late last week, keeping in place the Mudcats and the disqualification of D2. The Los Angeles Vipers won the division.

The Mudcats were among 10 teams from the Hotlanta Softball League that competed in the Gay Softball World Series. Five of those teams, including the Mudcats, placed in the top three of their divisions. But none of the Atlanta teams won a championship.

The Mudcats alleged that D2 had too many straight players on their roster. NAGAAA regulations permit up to two non-gay players on teams in the World Series.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights’ Sports Project filed the appeal on behalf of D2 and was notified of NAGAAA’s decision last week, according to the Bay Area Reporter.

Helen Carroll, head of the NCLR’s Sports Project, said the appeal filed on behalf of D2 and the San Francisco Gay Softball League was denied in a letter from the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Association late last week. The D2 team was disqualified during the championship game against a team from Los Angeles after organizers decided, based on interviews, that four of the D2 players were straight. The decision followed a protest filed by a team from Atlanta. The Gay World Softball Series limits teams to two straight players.

“We were appealing the process that was used in saying the athletes were ineligible,” Carroll said. “Obviously we were disappointed that it was denied. We’re still optimistic we can get them to look at this topic in depth again in January and they will look at it a little bit differently.”

But the protest raises an interesting legal question about NAGAAA’s regulations concerning straight players.

The loosely enforced rule predates the sexual orientation anti-discrimination laws that now exist in California, D2’s home; Washington, where the 2008 Series was played; and Wisconsin, site of next year’s Series and the first state to have included sexual-orientation in its discrimination laws. Those laws call into question not just the need but the legal validity of the not-gay-enough rule.

“I don’t think we’ve encountered this question before,” said Marc Brenman, executive director of the Washington State Human Rights Commission. “One quick reality test that is sometimes used to determine the possible magnitude of an issue is to ask how it would be treated if the term “African-Americans” were substituted for the group in question. Would it be acceptable to the public mind for a private group to exclude some people because they were not ’sufficiently’ African-American?”

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