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December 10, 2009 11:14 AM   Subscribe

Pregnant Texan honors student Mackenzie McCollum was barred from playing on her school's volleyball team specifically because of her pregnancy. After the school allowed her back on the team, McCollum's coach cut her playing time and disclosed the pregnancy to all her teammates. The US Department of Education is now investigating the school for Title IX violations, and both McCollum and her family are on the receiving end of some pretty nasty invective. (ESPN video profile, ESPN comments)
posted by bitter-girl.com (197 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
I would think it would be prudent for her to voluntarily quit the team, in order to protect her baby. While she's pregnant, doing a lot of dives ain't good. After the baby comes, she's going to be too busy for sports.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:24 AM on December 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


Don't get me wrong, the coach is all kinds of douchebag, and by the letter of the law, yeah, clear discrimination. But, like, volleyball? Pregnant? Really? Dive-bumps with a baby-bump? What?
posted by Sys Rq at 11:25 AM on December 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


It's like a real-life version of Glee!
posted by brand-gnu at 11:26 AM on December 10, 2009 [17 favorites]


I would think it would be prudent for her to voluntarily quit the team, in order to protect her baby. While she's pregnant, doing a lot of dives ain't good

In the ESPN video her OB/GYN cleared her to play. She's a "setter." That position does not dive or bump.
posted by ericb at 11:26 AM on December 10, 2009 [17 favorites]


"In order to stay on the team, McCollum had to produce a doctor’s note proving she could play.

When the doctor cleared her with the condition that she keep her heart rate relatively low, the school said no deal - even though she’s a setter on the volleyball team and the doctor said he thought she’d be fine. So he wrote a second note clearing her completely, and the school had to relent. But the coach docked her playing time anyway, which representatives of the Women’s Law Center note constitute retaliation."*
posted by ericb at 11:30 AM on December 10, 2009 [5 favorites]


Disclosing of pregnancy = violation of HIPAA?
posted by squorch at 11:30 AM on December 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


She's a "setter." That position does not dive or bump.

Ah. I rescind my comment.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:32 AM on December 10, 2009


"Generally, it is safe for a woman to continue with whatever level of physical exertion she is acclimated to during the first half of pregnancy.

You should know that one (and only one) meta-analysis study done in Europe has found a small correlation between high impact/high intensity/high volume exercise and first trimester miscarriage."*
posted by ericb at 11:33 AM on December 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


My sister in law taught her cycle fit class for a good chunk of her pregnancy. I think you can generally maintain the same level of exercise you did before you got pregnant. I'm sure if she didn't feel well enough to play volleyball she'd stop.
posted by chunking express at 11:35 AM on December 10, 2009


In the ESPN video her OB/GYN cleared her to play. She's a "setter." That position does not dive or bump.

if I were any kind of school official, that would simply not be enough for me. I would absolutely bar her from playing any sport. The point, to my mind, isn't that the sport involves her actively striking her belly, it's that accidental strikes to her belly are likely, whether it's a spike from the other team or the elbow of a diving teammate.

mind you, this doesn't excuse the coach having disclosed her pregnancy.
posted by shmegegge at 11:36 AM on December 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I wonder if the father got cut from his sports teams.
posted by GuyZero at 11:37 AM on December 10, 2009 [40 favorites]


it's that accidental strikes to her belly are likely, whether it's a spike from the other team or the elbow of a diving teammate.

By that logic, any woman with a toddler should be prohibited from becoming pregnant.
posted by GuyZero at 11:37 AM on December 10, 2009 [52 favorites]


During my wife's recent pregnancy, our midwives urged lots oif physical activity (within certain,sensible limits). Such activity is not only not harmful, it better prepares the body for labor. Pregant women are not the fragile creatures that we frequently try to turn them into. This would have been fine for her position.

And with respect to the actions of the coach, yeah, this sounds like retaliation for a young woman who apparently did not feel the amount of shame they thought appropriate for a pregant teen. The only angle missing is "sexting."
posted by Verdant at 11:38 AM on December 10, 2009 [7 favorites]


if I were any kind of school official, that would simply not be enough for me. I would absolutely bar her from playing any sport. The point, to my mind, isn't that the sport involves her actively striking her belly, it's that accidental strikes to her belly are likely, whether it's a spike from the other team or the elbow of a diving teammate.

That's a risk she and her parents are willing to take. It's no sports official's business.
posted by cmgonzalez at 11:39 AM on December 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


Generally, it is safe for a woman to continue with whatever level of physical exertion she is acclimated to during the first half of pregnancy.

she's entering her 6th month of pregnancy, as of now. I don't recall when her playing time was cut.
posted by shmegegge at 11:39 AM on December 10, 2009


Guy Zero, knock it off. No, the father didn't get cut off because the father isn't pregnant. And a toddler isn't strong enough to cause damage even if violent.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:40 AM on December 10, 2009 [8 favorites]


Disclosing of pregnancy = violation of HIPAA?

My guess would be no, since it was a coach doing the disclosing and not a health professional.
posted by hifiparasol at 11:40 AM on December 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Disclosing of pregnancy = violation of HIPAA?

The coach (nor the school, for most purposes) is not a covered entity under HIPAA for protected health information purposes.
posted by Pax at 11:41 AM on December 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I would think it would be prudent for her to voluntarily quit the team, in order to protect her baby. While she's pregnant, doing a lot of dives ain't good. After the baby comes, she's going to be too busy for sports.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:24 AM on December 10


In your haste to vilify both human-to-human sexuality and basic physical activity, you forgot to read the article, specifically the part where her doctor cleared her to play. Whoops! Do itashimashite! kekekekekeke
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:41 AM on December 10, 2009 [12 favorites]


OC, I stand by my statement.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:42 AM on December 10, 2009


Control of womens' bodies by others: a game where everyone should be benched.
posted by yeloson at 11:42 AM on December 10, 2009 [41 favorites]


if I were any kind of school official, that would simply not be enough for me. I would absolutely bar her from playing any sport. The point, to my mind, isn't that the sport involves her actively striking her belly, it's that accidental strikes to her belly are likely, whether it's a spike from the other team or the elbow of a diving teammate.

If she's willing to take that risk, then what's the problem?
posted by shaun uh at 11:43 AM on December 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's no sports official's business.

that's a weird way to refer to her volleyball coach, but okay. I'm really just speaking as a hypthetical school official of any kind, but I'm still gonna go ahead and say that if I were responsible for a school's liability in the event of a volleyball related miscarriage, I wouldn't care what she or her parents wanted. it'd be about covering my school's ass legally. sure, maybe that wasn't the coach's call. I don't know. I think that, as the coach, I'd still feel totally uncomfortable putting a 5 months pregnant girl in that position and would probably cut her playing time if not kick her off the team. which, again, I need to look up when she was cut.
posted by shmegegge at 11:44 AM on December 10, 2009 [5 favorites]


That's a risk she and her parents are willing to take. It's no sports official's business.

I agree that the coach here is a dick, but the baby's safety is the school's business from a liability standpoint. Schools are strapped enough for cash as it is without having to worry about putting a growing fetus in harm's way. If they made a liability argument, I could sort of sympathize, maybe -- though the doctor's note would seem to clear the school of any responsibility.

Of course, that's not really what's going on, as others have mentioned. It's a shame thing, which is disgusting.
posted by hifiparasol at 11:44 AM on December 10, 2009 [6 favorites]


JINX
posted by hifiparasol at 11:44 AM on December 10, 2009


By that logic, any woman with a toddler should be prohibited from becoming pregnant.

this is a ridiculous point, and you know it.
posted by shmegegge at 11:45 AM on December 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


She's a "setter." That position does not dive or bump.

The setter may in some cases need to cover for a dink, for example. This might require a dive or bump.

When the doctor cleared her with the condition that she keep her heart rate relatively low, the school said no deal - even though she’s a setter on the volleyball team


I don't think a setter is going to have a lower heart rate than any other player on a volleyball team. Action is fast-paced, and setters need to run, jumpset, and yes, dive on occasion. Not that I think the school is justified in their actions, but to suggest that playing setter is a non-strenuous position is silly.
posted by Mountain Goatse at 11:46 AM on December 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I jammed and broke my middle finger setting a volleyball back in high school. I wasn't injured in any other way in that position. You don't dive, and where you play, you're usually not surrounded by other players.

However, if she and her parents and doctor all signed off on her playing, then the school is in the wrong here. Especially when it comes to disclosing her pregnancy to everyone. And treating her like some kind of dainty invalid. Pregnant women aren't fragile, and pregnancy isn't an illness.

Hopefully the school has to make some kind of restitution.
posted by cmgonzalez at 11:47 AM on December 10, 2009 [5 favorites]


if I were any kind of school official, that would simply not be enough for me. I would absolutely bar her from playing any sport. The point, to my mind, isn't that the sport involves her actively striking her belly, it's that accidental strikes to her belly are likely, whether it's a spike from the other team or the elbow of a diving teammate.

It isn't anyone's place to say what a pregnant woman can or can't do aside from her doctor. This sort of patronizing attitude is incredibly offensive, and essentially demotes a woman from "human" to "baby delivery vessel" for 9 months.

If she feels fine to play, and her doctor clears it, then why is it anyone's business? Especially not a random school official who is not in the least trained to understand what amount of exertion or impact is good or bad for a pregnant woman or her fetus.
posted by explosion at 11:47 AM on December 10, 2009 [45 favorites]


Take the specifics out: it doesn't matter her position* or the sport she's engaged in. Volleyball, basketball, field hockey, wrestling, track, crew or swimming -- you could find something potentially harmful in even Frisbee golf. That's not the point, at least the way the post is framed. It's about the lengths the school administration has gone to be dicks to her. It's one thing to express concern for her well-being in her pregnancy (and requiring a Doctors clearance makes perfect sense), another thing altogether to publicly out her, shame her and then punish her after making her jump through (metaphorical) hoops. Thus the Title 9 invesigation.

Good for you, Mackenzie McCollum and your mother too.

*Volleyball is, abstracted enough: bump/serve, set, spike. As a setter, she's potentially in the way of(all though not always targeted by) a spiked ball. Ideally, she'd be 2nd touch, 'setting' up the ball for a tall, powerful spiker.
posted by now i'm piste at 11:47 AM on December 10, 2009 [10 favorites]


I think that, as the coach, I'd still feel totally uncomfortable putting a 5 months pregnant girl in that position and would probably cut her playing time if not kick her off the team.

I'd get why you'd be uncomfortable. I'd be uncomfortable too! But if discomfort was a good enough moral and legal reason to discriminate, I'm pretty sure I'd have to go live under a rock someplace.
posted by shaun uh at 11:47 AM on December 10, 2009 [7 favorites]


I always give my seat on the metro up to visibly pregnant women because I think standing with that load would be uncomfortable. But what month does she become visibly pregnant?
posted by anniecat at 11:51 AM on December 10, 2009


the baby's safety is the school's business from a liability standpoint.

From the "liability standpoint" it is the school's "business" -- nay, its legal duty -- not to discriminate on the basis of pregnancy. This means that the school does not get to make the paternalistic choice about the risks/benefits to the fetus for the young mother. She gets to decide that.
posted by yarly at 11:51 AM on December 10, 2009 [5 favorites]


Outing her and shaming her was as wrong as can be, and the coach and the school deserve whatever repercussions come their way, but if I were in the coach's position I probably would have removed her from play as well. I'd rather be known as "the coach who wouldn't let a pregnant girl play volleyball" than risk even the one-in-a-million chance of being "the coach who put a pregnant girl in the game where she got hurt and had a miscarriage."
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:52 AM on December 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


This sort of patronizing attitude is incredibly offensive, and essentially demotes a woman from "human" to "baby delivery vessel" for 9 months.

no it doesn't, and you're taking it way out of proportion. it's the coach's job to look out for his players, in certain sense.

again, I'm not saying he was right. he was certainly wrong to disclose her pregnancy. but in terms, and exclusively in these terms, of the school's liability in the case of miscarriage, I'd keep a 5 or 6 months pregnant teen off the team. if this were in the first trimester I'd leave it alone.

which reminds me, again, to go rewatch the video and find out when this happened. sorry about that. I'm at work, etc... if someone else remembers when she was cut, I'd appreciate it if you said it here.
posted by shmegegge at 11:52 AM on December 10, 2009


"I strongly believe pregnancy should not be a state of confinement," said Dr. Raul Artal, chairman of obstetrics, gynecology and women's health at Saint Louis University in St. Louis. "If there are no complications, and a woman is willing to continue to train, she can."

For more than 30 years, Artal has researched the impact of exercise on pregnancy and has written several books on the topic for amateur and professional athletes. He's worked with several well-known athletes as they've kept up their sport while waiting to deliver, including a runner who trained for the Olympic trials while pregnant.

It's a bit ironic, then, that Artal is the reason so many other obstetricians impose physical limits on pregnant athletes that make it almost impossible for them to do much more than a casual jog.

Barbara Horton Doctors say athletes like Mackenzie should keep their internal core temperature below 103 degrees, stay hydrated and maintain a workout that lets them breathe easily.

In 1985, Artal said, he and other doctors suggested guidelines to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists to have pregnant women keep their heart rate below 140 beats per minute during exercise. The concern, Artal said, was that the fetus would be deprived of oxygen if a woman's heart rate went any higher.

When Parker was pregnant, it was easy for the 23-year-old pro basketball forward to sometimes creep up to 170 beats per minute on the elliptical machine. She said she could hit 140 beats per minute just walking, which wouldn't give her, or most other pregnant athletes, much of a workout at all.

posted by anniecat at 11:54 AM on December 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


>>she's entering her 6th month of pregnancy, as of now. I don't recall when her playing time was cut.

The ESPN video shows this timeline:
Doctor writes a note, says clear to play with limited contact and keeping her heart rate below 140.
School doesn't let her play, claiming sport inherintly has contact and they'd be unable to monitor her heart rate.
Doctor wrote her a 2nd note saying only she was 12 weeks pregnant and able to play.
(School presumably accepts this, but it's not depicted)
When returning to the squad full time, she found her playing time had been cut (coach claims this always happens to seniors, she claims she's the only one affected) AND the coach had told other players she was out, why, and how they'd work around it.
posted by now i'm piste at 11:56 AM on December 10, 2009


Disclosing of pregnancy = violation of HIPAA?

FERPA would be relevant privacy act here.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:58 AM on December 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


*headdesk* Fort Worth, my new home town, why do you have to be so back asswards sometimes?
posted by kmz at 12:00 PM on December 10, 2009


By that logic, any woman with a toddler should be prohibited from becoming pregnant.

this is a ridiculous point, and you know it.


No, not really. Pregnant women don't just sit around in bed all day or get rolled around in wheelchairs. They do stuff. And volleyball isn't hockey. It doesn't seem a lot more strenuous than anything I've seen non-teenage pregnant women do.

Unless volleyball players are elbowing their teammates a lot more these days.
posted by GuyZero at 12:00 PM on December 10, 2009 [9 favorites]


Is there any evidence here that the coach cut her playing time out of retaliation or payback, and not from a good faith opinion (however misguided) that it would be best for the health & safety of her and her unborn child?
Also, of what importance is "honors student" in the fpp, aside from editorializing?
posted by rocket88 at 12:01 PM on December 10, 2009


Thanks ROU... I knew there was something out there that covered this, but couldn't remember what.
posted by squorch at 12:05 PM on December 10, 2009


No, not really. Pregnant women don't just sit around in bed all day or get rolled around in wheelchairs. They do stuff.

and since I never said that they sit around in bed all day, or that they didn't do stuff, your point is...

And volleyball isn't hockey. It doesn't seem a lot more strenuous than anything I've seen non-teenage pregnant women do.

skiing isn't hockey either, but I know someone who lost a child from a skiing collision. are you saying nobody gets accidentally elbowed or otherwise bumped in volleyball?

although at this point, I'm only even bothering with this because of how dishonest your argumentation is. the above comment:

Doctor wrote her a 2nd note saying only she was 12 weeks pregnant and able to play.
(School presumably accepts this, but it's not depicted)
When returning to the squad full time, she found her playing time had been cut (coach claims this always happens to seniors, she claims she's the only one affected) AND the coach had told other players she was out, why, and how they'd work around it.


which sounds like she was cut in her first trimester, which is pretty flatly uncalled for and I'll take back my defense of the coach. that's pretty fucked up.
posted by shmegegge at 12:05 PM on December 10, 2009


Oh, and for toddlers - I took more physical damage from my two kids as toddlers than I ever took playing volleyball. Of course, I suck at volleyball and I suppose this girl probably doesn't. And, I suppose, most the the damage involved the fact that a baby's fist fits inside your eye socket.

Those little fuckers can throw a hell of a sucker punch I tell you.
posted by GuyZero at 12:06 PM on December 10, 2009 [6 favorites]


What bugs me is how many people without medical training of any variety think they know better than the girl's doctor does.

If I'm asthmatic and my doctor says it's okay for me to play a particular sport once it was managed with daily medication, I would reasonably expect to be allowed to compete on that team if I was good enough to get onto the team. I would not expect the school to tell me that sorry, my doctor's verification that I was healthy enough under my current care regimen to play volleyball was insufficient.

If the school wants a second opinion, fine, that's one thing. But whether you're a coach or a principal or a ref or any person involved in this school or sport who is not a doctor, on either side of the question, your opinion on a medical issue does not mean squat. The coach should also not be overruling a doctor saying that someone isn't healthy enough to play, that part is obvious, isn't it? It goes both ways.

If you take the view that they need to prevent even the tiniest risk of harm, then by that rationale pregnant girls shouldn't even be allowed on the school grounds. Nor pregnant teachers! In reality, there needs to be an analysis of the actual risk. And if the person who is trained to make that analysis says that the risk is low enough to consider it safe, gainsaying that just because the medical condition in question is pregnancy and you have predetermined ideas of how to treat pregnant women is, in fact, discrimination.
posted by larkspur at 12:08 PM on December 10, 2009 [22 favorites]


although at this point, I'm only even bothering with this because of how dishonest your argumentation is.

You really think the coach is seriously trying to keep a girl weeks away from giving birth from waddling out on the court to play? Who is being dishonest here? This girl isn't some martyr - women are active during pregnancy until it starts to become uncomfortable to do so. She know what she can and wants to be able to do. Let's not base arguments on assuming this girl is being superhuman or a martyr.

which sounds like she was cut in her first trimester, which is pretty flatly uncalled for and I'll take back my defense of the coach. that's pretty fucked up.

yeah.
posted by GuyZero at 12:09 PM on December 10, 2009


I'm really surprised there are all these comments claiming they effectively don't want pregnant women playing sport.
Are there any other aspects of another's body you would like control over?
posted by bystander at 12:12 PM on December 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


You really think the coach is seriously trying to keep a girl weeks away from giving birth from waddling out on the court to play?

no, I thought he was keeping a girl who was 3 months away from giving birth from playing. no shit, your method of disagreeing with me is completely dishonest. when I tell you that I think the school has to watch out for its own liability, you start making comparisons to toddlers, which have nothing whatsoever to do with a school's liability, as though they were relevant. not to mention accusing me of saying women can't do anything but lie around in bed all day. I may have been wrong about when she was cut from the team, but that's about the extent of it. you've piled all this other shit on what I said out of some fucked up need to shit on anyone you disagreed with.
posted by shmegegge at 12:12 PM on December 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


not to mention accusing me of saying pregnant women

fixed
posted by shmegegge at 12:13 PM on December 10, 2009


If her own doctor cleared her for this activity, and her parents were fine with it, what exactly is the problem? Seems pretty cut and dry to me. In my experience coaches are usually happy to hear a player's doctor say, "Yes, this person is fit to play on your team." Ignoring this seems more like projection of his own antiquated notions of how pregnant women should behave.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:16 PM on December 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


no, I thought he was keeping a girl who was 3 months away from giving birth from playing.

I'm not seeing the part in the links where the volleyball coach is also an MD, and an OB-GYN to boot, and therefore knows what kind of physical activity is appropriate for a pregnant woman.
posted by rtha at 12:16 PM on December 10, 2009 [5 favorites]


Disclosing of pregnancy = violation of HIPAA?

HIPAA requirements only applies to health-care payers (insurance companies, etc) and providers (doctors, etc).
posted by scottatdrake at 12:17 PM on December 10, 2009


I would think it would be prudent for her to voluntarily quit the team, in order to protect her baby. While she's pregnant, doing a lot of dives ain't good. After the baby comes, she's going to be too busy for sports.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:24 AM on December 10


That's nice. Next time you're pregnant you can decide what is and isn't good for you.

And how busy she will or won't be after she has the baby doesn't really have anything to do with anything. If family or hired childcare took care of her kid, would you still be opposed to her remaining on the team?

I know someone who lost a child from a skiing collision. are you saying nobody gets accidentally elbowed or otherwise bumped in volleyball?

I think what people are saying is that a person's level of physical activity during pregnancy is a personal decision that should be made with the advice and assistance of a doctor.
posted by Mavri at 12:17 PM on December 10, 2009


>>Is there any evidence here that the coach cut her playing time out of retaliation or payback, and not from a good faith opinion.....?

Well, he declined to give a statement to ESPN. He's alleged to have talked to the other players about her pregnancy ("she planned to keep it secret") and there's no indication either way.

>>Also, of what importance is "honors student" in the fpp, aside from editorializing?

Well, it's in the lead of the video, her mother says "She becomes obsessed with becoming the best she can be" and it's valid way of characterizing a high school student. It can be misleading (I was an Honor Student and got into plenty of trouble in and out of school), but
posted by now i'm piste at 12:18 PM on December 10, 2009


my mentioning that dealing with a toddler is as physically strenuous as playing volleyball - which you're welcome to disagree with, sheesh, was not intended as a direct point-to-point rebuttal to the issue of school liability.

And I'm hardly shitting on you. My "logic", such as it is, may be weak and my arguments may be poorly constructed and I may have a specific ideological position that I stick to but I'm not calling you names or any nonsense like that. You can write the coach mash notes and put pictures of him in your locker, go crazy. I don't really expect you to somehow renounce your ties to everything you love and hold dear just because I've disagreed with you.
posted by GuyZero at 12:18 PM on December 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Doctor writes a note, says clear to play with limited contact and keeping her heart rate below 140.
School doesn't let her play, claiming sport inherintly has contact and they'd be unable to monitor her heart rate.


Hmm. If this is true, I'm interested in the actual liability reasons. Pregnancy aside: if a student athlete has a doctor's permission to play some sport but needs to keep their heart rate below a certain number, and is allowed "limited contact", what are the legal requirements of the school in order to comply? Are they required to be the ones to monitor the student's heart rate, or is that the responsibility of the student? I personally think that 140 is a ridiculously low number, especially for a young woman, but I'm not a doctor, and if I was a school official I'd be very leery about playing fast and loose with that boundary unless I had explicit legal permission to do so.

This has nothing to do with punishment for sex, or treating pregnant women as baby machines or fainting flowers. I'm wondering about it from a more generic standpoint, as in the case of any student athlete with any health issues. The coach was an absolute ass and completely in the wrong to disclose her pregnancy without permission, no question. But I don't know that the school was at fault the first time around if it was truly a matter of, "Hey, there's no way we can monitor these health requirements, so we have to say no so we don't get our asses sued on the tiny chance that something goes wrong."

How do schools normally treat this sort of situation, or does it vary by state/district?
posted by Salieri at 12:19 PM on December 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


was not intended as a direct point-to-point rebuttal to the issue of school liability.

which is why it was ridiculous, since I was talking about the school's liability. I'm open to being disagreed with on anything, and we can see I'm willing to retract my statements when I'm wrong since I did so in this very thread. but you have mischaracterized what I said and what my point was. act like you didn't do anything wrong all you want, but you were being dishonest. in the end, that's what we're left with. I was wrong, and you were dishonest.
posted by shmegegge at 12:22 PM on December 10, 2009


And just to clarify - if the doctor had given a blanket permission that, "Yes, this student can play this sport," then the school should have said, "Okay, awesome." If the doctor gives explicit boundaries - "This student can play if X and Y conditions are met," - then what legal responsibility does the school have to comply with the letter of that permission?
posted by Salieri at 12:24 PM on December 10, 2009


Oh, it's an exciting round of he-said, he-said.

You said:

In the ESPN video her OB/GYN cleared her to play. She's a "setter." That position does not dive or bump.

if I were any kind of school official, that would simply not be enough for me. I would absolutely bar her from playing any sport. The point, to my mind, isn't that the sport involves her actively striking her belly, it's that accidental strikes to her belly are likely, whether it's a spike from the other team or the elbow of a diving teammate.

mind you, this doesn't excuse the coach having disclosed her pregnancy.


Now, if you were talking about liability, great. I did not read your comment that way but more as an indicator that you felt volleyball was too physically dangerous. I don't see the word "liability" anywhere.

I pull-quoted you with this:

it's that accidental strikes to her belly are likely, whether it's a spike from the other team or the elbow of a diving teammate.

And added what is quite possibly a non-sequitur:

By that logic, any woman with a toddler should be prohibited from becoming pregnant.

By which I meant to compare and contract the relative physical effort and physical danger of dealing with a toddler to playing volleyball. I have been kicked harder by toddler than by volleyball teammates, but by no means does my limited life experience comprised a longitudinal study on the relative danger of these two activities.

So - while I accept that you could have been talking about the school's legal liability and not about the physical stress in isolation I really didn't read your comment that way. And I maintain that I don't think my reading is so absurd to be called dishonest.
posted by GuyZero at 12:31 PM on December 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


If the student and the parents both agree that they wouldn't hold the school responsible if the student were to get injured, why shouldn't the student be allowed to play?
posted by drezdn at 12:31 PM on December 10, 2009


What bugs me is how many people without medical training of any variety think they know better than the girl's doctor does.
This is assuming that the doctor has a clue about what's involved in the sport.

Patient: "It's rochambeau, doctor. Most of the time, we circle around each other looking for an opening."

Doctor: "Well, that doesn't seem that strenuous. I'll write you a note."

Patient (sotto voce on way out the door): "The rest of the time we kick each other in the crotch."
posted by joaquim at 12:31 PM on December 10, 2009 [9 favorites]


And by "kicked by a toddler" I mean specifically in the stomach and not just wherever.
posted by GuyZero at 12:33 PM on December 10, 2009


Well, he declined to give a statement to ESPN

Probably under orders from his employer and/or their lawyers due to the Title IX investigation. Besides, since when is not talking to reporters evidence of guilt?

I know Metafilter loves a good outrage, but it seems misguided here. Her original doctors note included conditions that the school wasn't comfortable with. The second note removed the restrictions so the school let her play. The coach changed her playing time but that's entirely his prerogative as the coach. (The ESPN story included the student's own admission that she changed her playing style to avoid dives and floor contact - that alone is enough to justify the coach's decision) The only transgression is the coach disclosing her pregnancy to the team...and that's hardly worthy of an FPP. There's no story to this story.
posted by rocket88 at 12:36 PM on December 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


Don't mess with Texas sports.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:38 PM on December 10, 2009


Oh, it's an exciting round of he-said, he-said.

wherein you selectively quote me for your own benefit. let me guess, this isn't more dishonest argumentation from you, you just didn't notice:

again, I'm not saying he was right. he was certainly wrong to disclose her pregnancy. but in terms, and exclusively in these terms, of the school's liability in the case of miscarriage, I'd keep a 5 or 6 months pregnant teen off the team. if this were in the first trimester I'd leave it alone.

which reminds me, again, to go rewatch the video and find out when this happened. sorry about that. I'm at work, etc... if someone else remembers when she was cut, I'd appreciate it if you said it here.


jesus fucking christ. few things on this site piss me off more than people misrepresenting others for the sake of a quick snark. the point is that, despite being wrong, I was at least trying to represent my point as honestly as possible, and acknowledge where I didn't know all the facts. so take your "he said, he said" shit and shove it up your ass. you've misrepresented me the entire fucking thread.

now I'm pissed enough that I'm losing my cool. I'm gonna back off. feel free to respond, I'm sure I'll keep reading. if I calm down enough to respond reasonably I'll do so. If I just get angrier, I'm gonna stay out.
posted by shmegegge at 12:38 PM on December 10, 2009


After the baby comes, she's going to be too busy for sports.

Disregarding the fact that this is an awfully large assumption, and smacks of condescension in a "get back in the kitchen where you belong and make me some pie" kind of way, how exactly is it in the slightest way relevant to the issues being discussed? It's like saying, well, someday I might lose both my arms, so there's no point in going bowling this saturday. I'd honestly like to hear what the logic was behind this comment.
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 12:39 PM on December 10, 2009 [9 favorites]


Also, of what importance is "honors student" in the fpp, aside from editorializing?

An interesting point. I once read an article about this girl who had been killed in a drive-by and her mother said that the girl had been an average student. I guess the "honors student" bit is to make readers feel obliged to feel sympathetic towards her.

I also once read a grisly story about an honors student at a very affluent high school who killed a young couple in a random murder. So honors students can also be diabolical. But in this girl's case, it seems to serve to make the point that she wasn't the kind of girl who was headed to nowhere fast and we should intervene because she's as intelligent as all of us geniuses.
posted by anniecat at 12:40 PM on December 10, 2009


And by "kicked by a toddler" I mean specifically in the stomach and not just wherever.

Toddlers must have some long legs.
posted by anniecat at 12:41 PM on December 10, 2009


Look, if a woman can cling to driftwood in the middle of the ocean after a tsunami at 18 weeks gestation and not suffer a miscarriage, I don't think a hit from a volleyball or another person is going to cause a miscarriage.

In the first place, statistics don't bear out that physical activity contributes to miscarriage. In the second place, fitness class instructors keep up their jobs often until late in the second trimester. They're used to the activity, the activity is considered safe. If physical activity, if being hit in the belly on its own, were enough to cause a miscarriage or damage to a fetus, then no female fitness instructors would give birth.

Women carry children and give birth in all kinds of horrid conditions all over the world. Playing volleyball in the US while under the care of a medical professional and with access to good nutrition, prenatal vitamins, emergency rooms, etc. is not one of them.

The school and coach are wrong no matter how you swing it.
posted by zizzle at 12:43 PM on December 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


And a toddler isn't strong enough to cause damage even if violent.

I have a litany of bruises that would beg to differ.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 12:47 PM on December 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Toddlers must have some long legs.

Long enough to kick you in the belly if you're holding him in your arms, or kneeling to dry him after his bath, or any one of a zillion other scenarios I recall from babysitting toddlers and being kicked by them.
posted by rtha at 12:48 PM on December 10, 2009 [5 favorites]


shmegegge you wrote that after I made my initial comments. You said A, I quoted it in B and yes, in C which came after A & B you mentioned liability. Really, truly, honestly I don't think I'm misrepresenting anything you've written. I maintain that I don't think volleyball is too physically strenuous for a pregnant women which is said with the assumption that the woman actually wants to play. You think the school needs to keep her off for their own benefit? Fine, but you wrote that after my initial comment(s).

As for me mention that women don't sit around all day, again, I wasn't trying to directly rebut you or claim you said that. And just because I can't shut up, I do consider skiing and hockey to be both extremely dangerous sports. People die while skiing. people break their ankles/legs often enough for it to be something people are trained to handle. The ski patrol isn't taking people off the hill in stretchers daily because they're tired of the view. I'd have cut this girl from the ski team if I was the coach.
posted by GuyZero at 12:52 PM on December 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


My highschool had every athlete sign a liability wavier. I'm sure that most high schools do the same. If the standard form doesn't cover pregnancy, this seems like a good opportunity to update the standard form.
posted by Kwine at 12:55 PM on December 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Well put, zizzle, but I fear that this is one of those situations where facts and data don't matter. If anything were to happen, the coach would be convicted in the court of public opinion.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:55 PM on December 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


There's a significant difference between the responsibilities of a coach (and school) for a youth and for an adult. I help coach a youth team, and I would be very, very uncomfortable if one of our girls were pregnant. I don't think I would care much what the doctors or parents or academics say, and I don't give a damn about legal liability ... it's more about the responsibility of an adult (theoretically, me) for a youth.

At the same time, I have had a certain amount of admiration for my teammates who have continued to practice or compete while pregnant.
posted by kanewai at 12:55 PM on December 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


If the student and the parents both agree that they wouldn't hold the school responsible if the student were to get injured, why shouldn't the student be allowed to play?

People never change their minds about suing somebody they said they wouldn't, after a traumatic incident. Nope, never. Absolutely no risk of them going back on their word at all. No chance of an expensive court fight over any prior agreement, and just how informed was the informed consent. None of that ever happens. HAMBURGER
posted by nomisxid at 12:56 PM on December 10, 2009 [8 favorites]


First, I admit the coaches actions were wrong, especially disclosing the pregnancy. Given the doctors ok I think the school had no legal right to ban her from sports.

The part that I have a hard time deciding on is how I would feel if I was a teammate or opponent. I know friends who severely injured competitors in sports and it had a lasting effect on them (as much as you tell someone there's an inherent risk that competitors accept, people still have a hard time accepting the injuries). This obviously doesn't include everyone (I know a striker who took pride in the number of legs he broke), but if I was going up against a girl I knew was pregnant, I'd just as soon as throw the match before I would spike the ball in her direction. The game wouldn't mean enough to me to risk it.
posted by Crash at 12:58 PM on December 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Pregnant women can do whatever they want, they are adults. Pregnant TEENAGERS should do what they're told by their parents and teachers They are still living at home under their parents' rules and at school under their teachers' supervision. Stop calling her a pregnant woman, she's just a child.

Having said that, cutting her in the first trimester and telling the other kids was douchey.
posted by weezy at 12:59 PM on December 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Jeez, for thirty bucks they can get a cheapo Polar HRM and check her heart rate like that. When I'm watching the TdF they are able to send rider HR data to a motorcycle, up-link it to a satellite, send it to a TV studio, and show it to me. How hard can it be to transmit this data across twenty feet of hardwood? OK, I'm done, carry on shmegegge and GuyZero.
posted by fixedgear at 1:03 PM on December 10, 2009


This is an odd thing for me to admit, because I definitely don't like paternalism or the way that we often treat pregnant women as too stupid to take care of themselves.

But I'm torn. What would I do if I were the coach? I'd worry, a lot, about what might happen to my player. Even if I didn't care about the school's liability, or mine.

Not because she's a fetus machine or delicate flower, just because any injuries she does sustain might have larger consequences than just having to get stitches or a knee wrapped. A miscarriage is not just a lost fetus/baby...it's not exactly pleasant for the woman, either. And teenagers, male or female, can be notoriously bad at assessing risk to themselves. As coach, I would feel a very heavy weight of responsibility to not be the reason something bad happened. And I would also know that if it did...I would be blamed. Because I was the coach.

And yeah, I would worry as to how I could possibly know her heart rate or if the exercise she was getting was in "acceptable" parameters per the doctor's note.

Disclosing her pregnancy was bad for many reasons; was it done to shame, though, or was it a simple mistake? Was this shaming the girl, or just not knowing what the hell to do?
posted by emjaybee at 1:04 PM on December 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


>> I'd have cut this girl from the ski team if I was the coach.

And you'd have been wrong.
The condition she was in at the time was OK'd by her doctor. The extent of the coach's responsibility should be if she's performing at the same level or injured. Besides, she wasn't cut: she initially wasn't allowed to participate and then later found her playing time significantly reduced, an action that may have been retaliatory. Injured players or those unable to play temporarily don't get cut, they get benched or sidelined until better. They're still on the team, and expected to participate how they can.

If I were the coach, I'd have worked with her, rather than against her.
posted by now i'm piste at 1:06 PM on December 10, 2009 [2 favorites]



Toddlers must have some long legs.
posted by anniecat at 2:41 PM on December 10 [+] [!]


Are you kidding me? My daughter has injured practically every part of my body at some point or another over her first four years...
posted by WinnipegDragon at 1:06 PM on December 10, 2009


Doctor writes a note, says clear to play with limited contact and keeping her heart rate below 140. School doesn't let her play, claiming sport inherintly has contact and they'd be unable to monitor her heart rate.

The closeup of the doctor's first note said, "no contact."
posted by kirkaracha at 1:08 PM on December 10, 2009 [1 favorite]



People never change their minds about suing somebody they said they wouldn't, after a traumatic incident. Nope, never. Absolutely no risk of them going back on their word at all.


A waiver would probably make it much harder for them.

Pregnant TEENAGERS should do what they're told by their parents and teachers

If their parents and doctor say it's ok, why does it matter what the teachers say?
posted by drezdn at 1:10 PM on December 10, 2009


I'm with Salieri on this--how do schools handle athletes whose doctors advise that those athletes can participate, but only under limited conditions? Are there any examples?
posted by magstheaxe at 1:12 PM on December 10, 2009


How much more dangerous is volleyaball than working in factories, driving, carrying heavy loads of firewood and water over long distances, working in a busy restaurant kitchen, doing farmwork or riding crowded urban buses?

I say that if a 3 month pregnant woman is forbidden from playing volleyball, all 3 month pregnant women be forbidden from working, receiving with full pay, so they can stay at home safe. What do you think about that, Texas?
posted by dirty lies at 1:21 PM on December 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


It sounds to me like the only realistic option for the coach was to just outright quit.

Every other option leaves him open for a world of hurt. If she miscarried, you bet your ass there'd be a lawsuit and endless grief for him. If he bans her, it's a lawsuit and endless grief. If he just quits, there's sure to be grief, but none that has him marked as "baby killer" or sued into oblivion. Of course, the asshat should never have breathed word about the girl's pregnancy. For that, he's gonna hang, and it'll be his own fault.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:25 PM on December 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Long enough to kick you in the belly if you're holding him in your arms, or kneeling to dry him after his bath, or any one of a zillion other scenarios I recall from babysitting toddlers and being kicked by them.

My brain is brewing up about a thousand product ideas to keep this from happening. Most of them seem bad, but I'm sure they'll catch on once one person does it. Something that immobilizes the toddler's hips and shoulders.
posted by anniecat at 1:31 PM on December 10, 2009


That's a risk she and her parents are willing to take. It's no sports official's business.
This is a state that sent a man to prison for life for trying to help his girlfriend miscarry, after a doctor lied to her and told her that she couldn't get an abortion.

If you think about this from a "pro-life" mindset, it makes sense to bar her from playing, after all doing anything to risk damaging the fetus is equivalent to assault, just as aborting the fetus is equivalent to murder.

On the other hand if you come at this from a "pro-choice" perspective, the girl should be able to do whatever she wants, even if there is a somewhat increased risk for the child. I guess.

But would you let a woman (or man) play volleyball if he or she had an infant strapped to themselves? Obviously being inside the womb is a little safer. But obviously they would have to modify the way they played.

And on top of that, if they did change the way they played, wouldn't they be less effective on the team?

So, I feel like I can understand this decision somewhat. I can see why people would be uncomfortable letting a pregnant girl play a highly physical sport even if the doctor said it was OK (after second consideration).

I certainly would be against forcing her off the team after she gave birth, though.

The coach (nor the school, for most purposes) is not a covered entity under HIPAA for protected health information purposes.

Don't forget, there's also FERPA
It isn't anyone's place to say what a pregnant woman can or can't do aside from her doctor.
Like I said, most people in Texas disagree with that view.
Pregnant TEENAGERS should do what they're told by their parents and teachers They are still living at home under their parents' rules and at school under their teachers' supervision. Stop calling her a pregnant woman, she's just a child.
First of all the idea that people suddenly become adults at 18 is absurd, and secondly her parents were fine with her continuing to play. It was her coach who had the problem.
posted by delmoi at 1:31 PM on December 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


A waiver would probably make it much harder for them.

But not until some expensive up-front litigation wherein a court, hopefully, holds the waiver valid. A waiver is not a magic get out of court free card. It's only a defense that your expensive lawyer can bring up, once you pay him/her to do so. When the process server comes to your door, you can show him/her all the waivers you want, he's still gone a serve you, and you're still going to have to show up in court to fight.
posted by nomisxid at 1:32 PM on December 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Regardless the absurdity of an arbitrary age of "adulthood," the school is still uniquely responsible for the health and safety of its students. Children in school do not have the same rights as adults.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:34 PM on December 10, 2009



And by "kicked by a toddler" I mean specifically in the stomach and not just wherever.

Toddlers must have some long legs.


Spoken like you don't have a toddler.

It is very common to pick up a toddler. It is very common for toddlers to have tantrums. It is very common for toddlers to kick when tantruming. In fact, it is very common[*] to have to pick up a toddler mid-tantrum to prevent damage or to leave an area.

Toddlers can and do cause damage (accidental and otherwise) to mommies. It's just part of the relationship. For what it's worth, I would rank the nose-breaking head-butt pretty high in the "most likely to occur" category. Also, slips and falls caused by toddlers yanking on hands or doing something unexpected while lifting them. Or simply from running after them while you're pregnant and your balance is all wacky.


*Although it is often useful to leave the toddler on the ground or wherever he or she happens to be, this is not always practical.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 1:39 PM on December 10, 2009


>>It sounds to me like the only realistic option for the coach was to just outright quit.

Yes, if he didn't want a pregnant girl to play on the team. Otherwise, the standard athletic waiver that all high school athletes sign should cover the schools liability. The coach and/or school should only be responsible if they knowingly create a dangerous situation such as forcing football training during heatwaves or not taking precautions to prevent slips in the locker rooms, or going against policies such as the Americans with Disabilities act or previously mentioned FERPA.
posted by now i'm piste at 1:42 PM on December 10, 2009


Speaking as a former volleyball official (I did HS for a while, but I have no idea what rules Texas uses, so this may be completely incorrect): The official really has no say in this sort of a thing. At all. If the player isn't actually bleeding or otherwise completely incapacitated (as in unconscious or broken bone, etc.) -- they can play as long as the coach is all for it.

Referees can ask for notes for various things like prostheses or religious garments but that's about it.

As far as I'm concerned, setter or not, she's putting herself in danger. But if her doctor said okay, then that's going to have to be good enough for me.

(I'd heard of cases back when I was playing full time of various girls getting pregnant but it was usually kinda hushed up and they were allowed to play as long as they weren't showing.)
posted by sperose at 1:43 PM on December 10, 2009


A couple of years ago, I played in a friendly, coed volleyball on Fridays, you know, a friends' game to unwind after the week. As in every friendly pickup game there were a range of skill levels from novice (me) to played-varsity, competitive-beach players. The best, most skilled players were a pair of female spikers. When one of them decided to start a family, there was no question about not playing, even in her elite woman's league games, let alone on Fridays. She switched from spiking to setting, sure, and stopped diving, but she still played until she was 5 months along. Afterwards, following the smooth delivery of her son, she and her doctor attributed her impressively quick recovery, to the level of fitness she maintained through her pregnancy. If anything playing seemed to help her and her baby rather than hurt them.

The irony is that we stopped playing on Fridays because too many players started families. She was the first mom to play in our Friday games but not the last.
posted by bonehead at 1:47 PM on December 10, 2009 [6 favorites]


My sister played varsity, first-team high school basketball up til she was 6.5 months pregnant. Cleared by her doctor. Until she really started showing, it was a need-to-know basis.

She kicked ass, too.
posted by notsnot at 1:47 PM on December 10, 2009 [5 favorites]


As coach I'd be very reluctant to let her play too. Not because I disapprove of her being pregnant, or hold out any fear greater than her doctor's for her health, but because the game isn't about her, it's about the team. Obviously this depends on how long "the rest of the season" is, but if it's long enough to carry her past a few months, her pregnancy is going to seriously affect her performance. It's going to affect the team dynamic, the way she and the other players interact on the court.

Volleyball (like tennis) is one of the games where players stay on their side of the net, so she's not at any real risk of being elbowed by an opposition team member; still, issues will arise, especially later in her pregnancy, when she approaches the net. These include but may not be limited to her own willingness to risk it, which isn't entirely under her conscious control (but not really anyone else's business, and traditionally the law does almost always pretend that we are fully volitional beings), her teammates' willingness to let her risk it and conscious and subconscious reactions, and the opposition team's willingness.

There's nothing to say that another player on this or another team isn't pregnant; she may be unaware of it yet, or may be aware but keeping it quiet to avoid the same issues. But the thing is, there's a time limit on how long one can do that. The coach and referees of any game that women participate in ought to at least consider the possibility of players being pregnant, and come up with a fair policy to address it.

In summary her being on the team and more than a few months pregnant affects a bunch of people beyond herself, probably to the detriment of the game, which again, is not about her. The longer she's pregnant, the more the game will be affected. Her doctor's note, or what we're told about it, is missing some information: it shouldn't be clearing her to play indefinitely, it should be (a) clearing her to play until an approximate date; (b) suggesting review of the clearance on some schedule.

I have absolutely no problem with her playing volleyball and I'd be surprised if the coach does. If it's her chosen primary form of exercise it could be accommodated; as she's presumably a better player than the first substitute, it'd be beneficial to have her participate in team practice for as long as she can, then move into an assistant coach role. That is what I, were I coach, would be asking her to do.

Playing competitive team volleyball, on the other hand, is about more than exercise. If you are, or do, or have, something that might seriously affect your team's chances of winning, it's your responsibility to your team to mitigate the effect of it on the team. Or at least, let them decide to what extent they're there for the exercise and the fun of it, and to what extent they're there to win.

Which is another point: the school almost certainly has at least two teams; for volleyball, you have to, in order to effectively practice. One of those teams is the A team, who are mostly the best at the game, highly competitive, probably aggressive, and keen to win. The B team is more there for the fun of it, and even if some of them are better players than some of the A players, they care a lot less about the win. From the sounds of it she started her pregnancy as an A player, but as time goes by, moving her onto the B team and moving the best B player up to the A team becomes more and more the sensible thing to do.

That's not to say that she will necessarily think that way. The fact that she's an A player makes it more likely that she has a driven and personally-aggrandizing personality (at this point in time). People make dumb decisions for the sake of pride. In the end it's the coach's responsibility to get the best out of the players he/she has, and to make the call as to which player plays on which team, if at all. If they're a good coach, the player should be agreeing, because the decision will be sensible and correct; but again, people make dumb decisions for the sake of pride. (And I'm not saying this guy is a good coach. Teams with players who become pregnant, and where the pregnancy is properly handled to the benefit of that player and the team as a whole, do not make the news.)
posted by aeschenkarnos at 1:50 PM on December 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


It's amazing how much ignorance there is here about what risks actually accompany pregnancy, and what causes miscarriage.

I am not a doctor but I do know that early in pregnancy it's actually very hard to injure the embryo/fetus because it is very well cushioned in the amniotic sac.

Later on a blow to the stomach could be more harmful because it could cause the placenta to detach; that would be more hazardous.

Regardless I find it hard to believe that this girl's doctor would endorse her playing if there were truly substantial risks. From reading the article the charitable interpretation, that the coach wanted to protect himself or the school from liability, seems less likely than that he simply, like many here, felt he should substitute his own judgment for that of the pregnant person and her family in consultation with her doctor.
posted by miss tea at 1:53 PM on December 10, 2009


Can someone who is a lawyer explain if the note from the doctor allowing her full participation completely absolves the school from any liability should something happen to the baby as a result of her playing?
posted by tommasz at 1:55 PM on December 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Just so we know what we are talking about here, we are talking about a fetus about 2.5 inches in length, very well-protected by considerably more amniotic fluid, uterine wall, and abdominal muscles.

Benching her pending a doctor's note is likely prudent, if a bit over-cautious. Benching her and violating her privacy after she's been cleared to play likely constitutes retaliation, which is something you can't do under federal non-discrimination law.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:03 PM on December 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


ok, I've calmed down a bit. I think shit like what went on between guyzero and myself gets on my nerves because it seems like I risk being labeled a sexist or something for stuff I never actually said. so, let me say now that I'm sorry for the derail, all. guyzero, I'm sure you didn't mean to do anything mean or upsetting to me, so I'm not gonna push the issue.

so here's my calmest possible take on this:

the truth is that it's her body, and if the doctor clears her, she should be able to play. I don't think you can get around that, for someone at the point in her pregnancy she was at. if there's a point in gestation where it isn't safe anymore, and I assume there is, it's the doctor's call.

on the other hand, there are a lot of non-ideal factors in this situation. (note: this doesn't change the fact that the coach was fundamentally wrong) here's what bothers me about this, and I'd love to hear what everyone thinks about these things:

1. the doc changed his diagnosis (is that the right word?) first he said that, provided her heart rate didn't change and contact was limited, she could play. then, when that wasn't good enough for the school, he just flat out cleared her. does that mean the heart rate and limited contact was never actually a requirement? that seems like an odd reversal to make. is that common among ob/gyns? it makes me think that perhaps the parents or girl herself plead with the doctor to change his requirements, and so he did. maybe I'm wrong. I don't know.

2. as nomisxid pointed out, people sue when they shouldn't or said they wouldn't all the time. I'd like to know if the school had any dialog with lawyers to find out what their liability is. having been raised by a civil attorney, I've kinda been raised to believe that lawsuits can be brought up about anything, and that you'll always find someone of low enough moral character to do it. CYA, etc... of course, this doesn't change the fact that the school DID clear her, and the coach went all cowboy on the deal, so fuck that guy.

anyway, that's where I'm at.
posted by shmegegge at 2:07 PM on December 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


I wasn't on a team in high school, but I was in the glee club (no, not like the one on the TV show). Because we had concerts that happened off campus and required travel, our parents had to sign waivers. I remember my mom thinking this was very odd - a liability waiver? for glee club? - and I can't imagine that high school students who play on school-sponsored teams don't have to have their parents sign the same kind of thing.
posted by rtha at 2:17 PM on December 10, 2009


I am not a doctor but I do know that early in pregnancy it's actually very hard to injure the embryo/fetus

Whereas Ms McCollum's doctor is a doctor, and his first note indicated that special restrictions would be necessary for McCollum's safety. That he later revised his opinion only creates further confusion and doubt, and is good reason to ban her entirely. What's to stop McCollum from later claiming that the first note's advice should have been followed rather than the second's? I sympathize totally with the school's and coach's desire to avoid all possible liability, because our society is very two-faced about pregnancy. Sure, people scream about pregnancy not being an illness or handicap when everything's going fine - the minute something goes wrong, those same people change their tune. I wouldn't want to go up against a bereaved teen 'mommy' in court.

I also understand the coach's telling the other team members about McCollum's pregnancy. The other team members must have noticed the conflict between McCollum and her coach, and the coach understandably wanted to explain his actions. I think the other players had the right to know that they were playing with a pregnant girl - if something did happen to McCollum, the other players would be caught up in it.

I feel sorry for the coach. A high school sports coach shouldn't have to deal with pregnant athletes - because high school girls shouldn't be pregnant. We in the adult world already have to tip-toe around the many and various 'rights' and greedy expectations of pregnant women and 'mommies'. Schools shouldn't have to do likewise, because their students shouldn't be mothers/mothers-to-be in the first place.
posted by eatyourcellphone at 2:28 PM on December 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


...high school girls shouldn't be pregnant.

Really? Why?
posted by ericb at 2:30 PM on December 10, 2009


We in the adult world already have to tip-toe around the many and various 'rights' and greedy expectations of pregnant women and 'mommies'

Oh no you dint!
posted by fixedgear at 2:32 PM on December 10, 2009 [5 favorites]


*sigh*
posted by GuyZero at 2:35 PM on December 10, 2009


"Most men believe their opinions are based on initial states, when most are based upon outcomes."

If this story was "pregnant teenager has miscarriage during volleyball game" there would be almost unanimous agreement that the coach and the school were profoundly negligent in allowing a teen to play a sport like volleyball whilst pregnant. Jumping? Diving? Spiking the ball? Accidental collisions? Seems obvious something awful would happen in (hypothetical) hindsight, doesn't it?

I could win that case pretty easily. *cue video of spiked volleyball being radar-gun timed, and striking pressure plates showing how many hundred pounds per square inch of pressure were applied to her abdomen*

If anyone believes a standard sports waiver form would protect the school in this situation, they are both naive and ignorant. And in a jury trial the school would be taken to the cleaners regardless of how many notes were in her file.
posted by discountfortunecookie at 2:41 PM on December 10, 2009 [14 favorites]


*sigh*

Yes, it's very vexing when someone doesn't focus obsessively on the agreed-upon 'victim' and stops to think about what it would be like for those around her, whose lives and livelihoods she is willing to disrupt in order to procure a 'right' even her own doctor is not perfectly sure she is safely able to exercise.
posted by eatyourcellphone at 2:41 PM on December 10, 2009


Disengage, folks, disengage.
posted by kmz at 2:42 PM on December 10, 2009


We in the adult world already have to tip-toe around the many and various 'rights' and greedy expectations of pregnant women and 'mommies'

Oh, bless your heart.
posted by lootie777 at 2:44 PM on December 10, 2009 [14 favorites]


eatyourcellphone: Yes, it's very vexing when someone doesn't focus obsessively on the agreed-upon 'victim' and stops to think about what it would be like for those around her, whose lives and livelihoods she is willing to disrupt in order to procure a 'right' even her own doctor is not perfectly sure she is safely able to exercise.

Yes, being next to someone you don't know is pregnant exercising is such a disruption.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:47 PM on December 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


I am now going to hell. Mods, you have been warned. Fellow members, I am sorry.

Pregnant women are not made of glass. They are perfectly healthy.

I have heard that pregnant women should not be given any special treatment. Being cut from the team seems like special treatment.
posted by GuyZero at 2:51 PM on December 10, 2009 [6 favorites]


whose lives and livelihoods she is willing to disrupt in order to procure a 'right' even her own doctor is not perfectly sure she is safely able to exercise.

Oh, call the waaaahmbulance. Or maybe call Congress, which added pregnancy to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (which covers employment and not education). Poor eatyourcellphone, living under the oppressive boot of pregnant women.
posted by rtha at 2:51 PM on December 10, 2009 [6 favorites]


And while we are at it, if we are going to blame anyone, let's blame Kerri Walsh for setting a bad example.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:52 PM on December 10, 2009


Yes, being next to someone you don't know is pregnant exercising is such a disruption.

Because no player ever collides with another player in a volleyball game? McCollum's doctor's first note said 'no contact', remember. Would you like to be the girl who accidentally bodyslammed a pregnant teammate you didn't know was pregnant. What if that happened and McCollum had a miscarriage that day or that week? Would you be able to convince yourself 100% it wasn't your fault? Or would it always be at the back of your mind that maybe you contributed?
posted by eatyourcellphone at 2:53 PM on December 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


If anyone believes a standard sports waiver form would protect the school in this situation, they are both naive and ignorant. And in a jury trial the school would be taken to the cleaners regardless of how many notes were in her file.

It seems like you're suffering from the misleading vividness fallacy. It's extremely unlikely that harm comes to the baby through the mother playing volleyball. It isn't as through the wavier form fails to protect against certain doom; rather it's yet another obstacle making an already unlikely bad liability outcome even unlikelier.

Put another way, you shouldn't allow anyone to play sports if your liability risk tolerance is so low as an institution: someone otherwise injuring themselves and suing the school may not have a very sexy case, but increased likelihood of other injuries pushes the risk profile into the same neighborhood.

It's hard to make a case for the school's and coaches action that doesn't revolve around demonization and punishment.
posted by Kwine at 2:55 PM on December 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Pregnant women are not made of glass. They are perfectly healthy.

ugh, so this is a thing with him? meh.
posted by shmegegge at 2:57 PM on December 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


Pregnant women are not made of glass. They are perfectly healthy.

I have heard that pregnant women should not be given any special treatment. Being cut from the team seems like special treatment.


Yes, exactly. Pregnant women aren't made of glass. They are perfectly healthy. But unfortunately our society and pregnant women themselves don't see it that way. That's the problem. If McCallum miscarried she might well go to court and receive overly sympathetic treatment. That's what I meant when I said our society is two-faced about pregnancy. And that thread, in which Mefites went apeshit because I suggested pregnant women could stand up on buses, is proof of what I'm saying. People are very inconsistent about pregnancy. Ask them about pregnant women one day, and they'll say pregnant women can't stand up for half-an-hour on the bus. Ask them another day, and the suggestion that pregancy imposes any limitations is just patriarchal nonsense. Thanks for linking to that thread, which proves my point more than yours.

Pregnancy is definitely not a disease or a handicap. Pregnant women are not made of glass. But there are some minor precautions they should take - as McCollum's doctor's first note suggests. When a pregnant woman can show me a note from her doctor that says she'll miscarry from standing up on a bus, I'll give her my seat.
posted by eatyourcellphone at 3:05 PM on December 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, my sources suggest that minor trauma is unlikely to cause a spontaneous abortion in the first trimester. If high school volleyball is so strenuous that catastrophic trauma of the abdomen is likely, then we should be benching practically everyone. The fetus is still mostly shielded by the bones of the pelvis after all.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:07 PM on December 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Seriously, dude, why is this your pet issue to harp on?

Why do you find that people being kind to other people is such a distressing thing?
posted by chiababe at 3:08 PM on December 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


It is very common to pick up a toddler. It is very common for toddlers to have tantrums. It is very common for toddlers to kick when tantruming. In fact, it is very common[*] to have to pick up a toddler mid-tantrum to prevent damage or to leave an area.

Just want to add to this to say that it's very common for toddlers to strike out, pull, or kick when they aren't having tantrums -- kids like to push their boundaries. My kids (@ 22 months) don't need to be picked up to connect an adult's upper torso, either. We stand ours on their changing table all the time when we're getting them dressed, where their feet are at the same height as my hips and my wife's stomach and chest. The kids also climb on our couches and sometimes stand up on them. My kids also are fascinated with my glasses. I've had to visit Lenscrafters several times now to have them bent back into shape.

My wife and I spend a lot of time at their level, too. We sit and lay down on the ground to play with them. One of the joys of being a parent. :)

Toddlers can and do cause damage (accidental and otherwise) to mommies.

Erhem. And daddies. :)
posted by zarq at 3:08 PM on December 10, 2009


ugh, so this is a thing with him? meh.

Yes, building a fairer and more equitable society is one of my 'things'. Sorry if that irks you. You're quite free to acquiesce to other people's demands that you accommodate their lifestyle choices, if that gives you a little thrill. I'll continue to demand that pregnant women expect to coddled only as a freely-given indulgence, not as a right.

Playing a vigorous sport that involves body contact is nothing like standing on a bus. McCollum has no right to involve her coach and her teammates in her lifestyle choice in such a potentially disastrous way.
posted by eatyourcellphone at 3:10 PM on December 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


You're quite free to acquiesce to other people's demands that you accommodate their lifestyle choices, if that gives you a little thrill.

oh it does. it's thrilling.

but for real, why is this your thing? Did a pregnant woman kill your dog or something? it's so odd that this is the thing that gets your goat so badly. I mean, I share two of your concerns here, but the whole "pregnant women are greedy entitled monsters" thing is so fucking odd.
posted by shmegegge at 3:14 PM on December 10, 2009 [7 favorites]


Playing a vigorous sport that involves body contact is nothing like standing on a bus.

Of course. Playing a vigorous sport in the first trimester is arguably healthier for both infant and mother than standing on a bus.

McCollum has no right to involve her coach and her teammates in her lifestyle choice in such a potentially disastrous way.

Of course she does. Both basic fairness and the law say that you can't unreasonably discriminate on the basis of medical condition or disability. And the only person informed or qualified enough to determine what restrictions she needs is her doctor.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:17 PM on December 10, 2009


People are very inconsistent about pregnancy.

No, pregnancies are inconsistent. All pregnancies are different, and every women goes through her own, individual experience. Some are more likely to miscarriage than others. Some are more likely to experience morning sickness than others. Or gestational diabetes. Or anemia. Or a host of other complications. Or, they might experience quick or slow labors.

And yes, some women find it difficult to stand on their feet for any period of time when they're (say) six months pregnant, while others can do high-intensity aerobics without a problem.

My wife's was very high risk. Many complications. Limited activity from the 12 week mark. Near-total bed rest at 25 weeks. (Near-total = 20 minutes of upright activity, no more.) She was hospitalized twice. You would not have been able to tell that through casual visual inspection.

By contrast, my best friend had an incredibly easy pregnancy. No complications. She worked 70 hours weekly into her ninth month and then went through only an hour and a half of labor.

If you're looking for consistency in the experience from person to person, you will only rarely find it.

When a pregnant woman can show me a note from her doctor that says she'll miscarry from standing up on a bus, I'll give her my seat.

That's your prerogative, of course. To each their own. Personally, I give my seat up to pregnant women whenever I see one get on the bus or subway. Not only is it polite, it's what I would have wanted people to do for my wife when she was pregnant.
posted by zarq at 3:21 PM on December 10, 2009 [11 favorites]


And that thread, in which Mefites went apeshit because I suggested pregnant women could stand up on buses, is proof of what I'm saying. People are very inconsistent about pregnancy. Ask them about pregnant women one day, and they'll say pregnant women can't stand up for half-an-hour on the bus. Ask them another day, and the suggestion that pregancy imposes any limitations is just patriarchal nonsense.

I can honestly say I've never seen this axe before, but grind it you have.

What a strange thread this has become.


I was in line at the store just yesterday and the woman behind me was very pregnant and had a large flat of bottled water in her cart and she asked the checkout guy if he could reach the bar code from where he was or if she would have to hoist it out for him. He didn't have a scan gun.

I put my bag of foods down and picked it up for her. "Thank you I really appreciate" she said.

I had been fooled. She could handle it all along the trixie minx. Who had put it in the cart in the first place? Why she had of course. Did she expect me to come home with her and unload it too? Is it my fault she doesn't know how to use a condom? I mean the fucking nerve of her to pretend to need help with a heavy object just because her belly is distended into the shape of a large ripe melon!!!? I'll never get up and offer a prego my bus seat AGAIN!

/prego hamburgers
posted by nola at 3:24 PM on December 10, 2009 [7 favorites]


All other issues aside, "she had a note from her doctor saying it was ok" is a pretty damn weak excuse for anything. Doctors being as human and fallible as any of us ...
posted by kanewai at 3:26 PM on December 10, 2009


but for real, why is this your thing?

Because the privilege is so deeply entrenched that it's invisible. People like chiababe say 'but it's just kindness!", because our immediate acquiescence to the demands of the pregnant is so automatic that it looks natural and just 'common decency'. Anyone who doesn't give in without a fight gets punished - as this coach is being punished. An invisible knapsack is an invisible knapsack, even if it's carried at the front and disguised as a baby-bump.

Of course. Playing a vigorous sport in the first trimester is arguably healthier for both infant and mother than standing on a bus.

Well, McCollum's doctor wasn't so sure of that. In his first note at least. But then he changed his mind. It's confusing, isn't it?

It's not a question of what's best for McCollum and her baby. That's McCollum's affair. It's what's best for the team and the school as a whole. Playing alongside a girl they are afraid of injuring is not good for her teammates. Leaving itself open to liability is not good for the school. McCollum is only thinking of herself, which is her right. But she doesn't have the right to insist her society reshape itself around her. She is a spoiled brat, quite frankly.

you can't unreasonably discriminate on the basis of medical condition or disability. And the only person informed or qualified enough to determine what restrictions she needs is her doctor.

Yet there is no clear evidence that this is unreasonable discrimination. Her doctor can't make up his mind about how risky this game will be to McCollum. And he admits to basing his advice on her description of the game, rather than first-hand experience.
posted by eatyourcellphone at 3:28 PM on December 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Because the privilege is so deeply entrenched that it's invisible. People like chiababe say 'but it's just kindness!", because our immediate acquiescence to the demands of the pregnant is so automatic that it looks natural and just 'common decency'.

Oh my god. You've heard of evolution right? Natural Morality is a feature not a bug.
posted by nola at 3:31 PM on December 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'll never get up and offer a prego my bus seat AGAIN!

I never said anyone should not help pregnant women. I said they should not expect it as a right. It is a privilege freely accorded to them by a kind and caring society. It is not theirs to demand, but theirs to accept gratefully.
posted by eatyourcellphone at 3:32 PM on December 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Here's my impression of this thread

"Maybe she should weigh the risks of injuring herself with the importance of playing volleyball"
"STOP TRYING TO CONTROL WOMEN'S BODIES! SEX ISN'T EVIL YOU MORALIZING REPRESSIVE PRUDE"
posted by tehloki at 3:34 PM on December 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


So, I had surgery on my ankle over a year ago and I was on crutches for a while. I was perfectly able to open doors and pick things up off the floor, but that doesn't mean I wasn't damned appreciative when someone offered to do for me instead because sometimes it was a real pain in the ass to maneuver around like that. How is it much different for pregnant women?

Do you think people on crutches are also pissy "spoiled brats" demanding special treatment from society because sometimes people do helpful things for them?

On preview: Have you ever had a pregnant woman walk up to you and demand your seat on the bus as an expected right? If so, that just makes that specific person demanding, not all pregnant women. Way to generalize about a group of people. You're a real winner.
posted by chiababe at 3:36 PM on December 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


Cheerleader:
"U-G-L-Y, you ain't got no alibi
You UGLY, yeah, yeah, you UGLY!
M-A-M-A, how you think you got that way?
Your MAMA, yeah, yeah, your MAMA!"

*awkward silence*
posted by benzenedream at 3:36 PM on December 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I never said anyone should not help pregnant women. I said they should not expect it as a right.

Is the a problem that's getting out of hand somewhere?

It is not theirs to demand, but theirs to accept gratefully.

*shrugs*

I'm sorry that pregnant lady on the bus was a total bitch to you that one time?
posted by nola at 3:38 PM on December 10, 2009 [5 favorites]


I said they should not expect it as a right.

Straw man.

We can all debate the coach's motivations until the cows come home because none of us actually know what they are. Was he being a jerk, punishing her indirectly for promiscuity? Was he a concerned father figure who wanted to protect her from harm? His motivations are unknowable.

Does this have anything to do with the unrelenting demands placed on everyone by pregnant women?

No, because that does not exist.
posted by GuyZero at 3:38 PM on December 10, 2009 [2 favorites]



I agree that the coach here is a dick, but the baby's safety is the school's business from a liability standpoint.

The "baby"???
So when does babyhood begin?
posted by notreally at 3:42 PM on December 10, 2009


Does this have anything to do with the unrelenting demands placed on everyone by pregnant women?

No, because that does not exist.


Thanks to this thread I now have a mental image of a pregnant teenager holding a gun to her belly a la Blazing Saddles and declaring "Let me play volleyball or the baby gets it!"
posted by zarq at 3:42 PM on December 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


People like chiababe say 'but it's just kindness!", because our immediate acquiescence to the demands of the pregnant is so automatic that it looks natural and just 'common decency'.

how completely bizarre. it is common decency, dude. what on earth makes you think it's not? have legions of pregnant women demanded your seat on the bus all your life? honest, what the hell has happened to you that you think pregnant women are stomping around demanding shit all the time? where on earth are you getting this idea that pregnant women are walking around expecting everyone to do shit for them?
posted by shmegegge at 3:43 PM on December 10, 2009


All other issues aside, "she had a note from her doctor saying it was ok" is a pretty damn weak excuse for anything. Doctors being as human and fallible as any of us ...

Should there have been a {hamburger} in this somewhere? Because any kid, pregnant or not, who wants to play school sports has to bring an okay from their doctor. Who might be wrong! Holy shit! All school sports should be banned!

Injuries to high school athletes happen a lot. Most are minor; some are quite serious (a friend of mine in high school was paralyzed as the result of a bad tackle in a rugby game). Anyone who thinks that liability waivers are "useless" should pay more attention, because if schools were getting sued because of injuries sustained by otherwise healthy athletes in the normal course of games or practices, I'm pretty sure we'd know about it.

For instance, the California Supreme Court ruled (.pdf) in 2003 that participating in sports is inherently risky, and that a coach's conduct would have to be found to be reckless.
posted by rtha at 3:48 PM on December 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Oh my god. You've heard of evolution right? Natural Morality is a feature not a bug.

No, my politics differ from yours, so I am therefore too stupid to have heard of evolution. I have heard of the naturalistic fallacy, though.

So, I had surgery on my ankle over a year ago and I was on crutches for a while. I was perfectly able to open doors and pick things up off the floor, but that doesn't mean I wasn't damned appreciative when someone offered to do for me instead because sometimes it was a real pain in the ass to maneuver around like that. How is it much different for pregnant women?

Do you think people on crutches are also pissy "spoiled brats" demanding special treatment from society because sometimes people do helpful things for them?

On preview: Have you ever had a pregnant woman walk up to you and demand your seat on the bus as an expected right? If so, that just makes that specific person demanding, not all pregnant women. Way to generalize about a group of people. You're a real winner.


Did you break your ankle deliberately? No? Temporary or permanent disability is not a lifestyle choice. Pregnancy is. Anyway, if you've read through the previous thread that GuyZero linked, one of my objections to the 'make way for preggos' faction is precisely that pregnant women take away seats on public transport and parking spaces that could be more usefully allocated to the disabled and infirm elderly (a growing demographic in most Western countries). So, no I don't think the disabled or infirm elderly are pissy spoiled brats. Nor do I think they get coddled and pampered the way pregnant women and 'mommies' do. It's insulting of you to try to co-opt the genuine struggle of the disabled, a horribly mistreated and genuinely oppressed group, to shore up your argument for further privilege for an already-indulged group.

A poster named emjaybee was pissing and moaning about not being given a seat in the thread that GuyZero linked. And yes, I've interacted with many pregnant women and 'mommies', and they are in the main disagreeable and arrogant. They are, with some exceptions, pissy spoiled brats who think their ability to crap out a squealer gives them the right to lord it over all and sundry. And people like you enable them.
posted by eatyourcellphone at 3:48 PM on December 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Legions of old people demand to be helped across the street, but I WILL NOT ACQUIESCE TO THE GRANNY BRIGADE. Pull yourself up by your bootstraps, Grandma!

(Google Ron Paul)
posted by chiababe at 3:51 PM on December 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


Playing alongside a girl they are afraid of injuring is not good for her teammates.

But there are a about a hundred injuries that are much more likely to happen to a woman playing volleyball ranging in severity from a broken nose to a ruptured spleen.

But she doesn't have the right to insist her society reshape itself around her.

So, coddling pregnant women is bad. Except when a woman asks to not be coddled. Then not-coddling=coddling.

Yet there is no clear evidence that this is unreasonable discrimination.

Bet there is when textbooks for the military and the Mayo clinic both agree that short of severe trauma involving massive blood loss, multiple broken bones, and or ruptured internal organs the risks of injury-induced miscarriage are extremely low. As we are talking about volleyball rather than street luge or motorcross, we are talking about absurd levels of caution over low levels of risk.

It doesn't matter whether the doctor changed his/her mind from conditional approval to full approval. It's his/her call.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:52 PM on December 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


I agree that the coach here is a dick, but the baby's safety is the school's business from a liability standpoint.


So the school is in loco parentis parentis?
posted by fixedgear at 3:52 PM on December 10, 2009


Anyone who doesn't give in without a fight gets punished - as this coach is being punished. An invisible knapsack is an invisible knapsack, even if it's carried at the front and disguised as a baby-bump.


A ha ha, this is hilarious. Satire, right?
posted by yarly at 3:52 PM on December 10, 2009


And yes, I've interacted with many pregnant women and 'mommies', and they are in the main disagreeable and arrogant. They are, with some exceptions, pissy spoiled brats who think their ability to crap out a squealer gives them the right to lord it over all and sundry. And people like you enable them.

And nothing more needs to be said.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:53 PM on December 10, 2009 [13 favorites]


Temporary or permanent disability is not a lifestyle choice. Pregnancy is.

How about women who are pregnant as a result of rape? Is that a lifestyle choice too?

Also, please list the excessive indulgences you think pregnant women receive that take away help from the elderly and disabled.
posted by chiababe at 3:53 PM on December 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


eatyourcellphone: When a pregnant woman can show me a note from her doctor that says she'll miscarry from standing up on a bus, I'll give her my seat.

Yes, and why hold the door for a woman? They gave up their rights to that kind of politeness when they demanded the vote!

Your idea of a "building a fairer and more equitable society" involves insisting that courtesy not be extended unless it is a medical necessity? Tell me, do you subscribe to the Objectivist Newsletter?

zarq: That's your prerogative, of course. To each their own. Personally, I give my seat up to pregnant women whenever I see one get on the bus or subway. Not only is it polite, it's what I would have wanted people to do for my wife when she was pregnant.

Same here. It's not only polite, it's the law in New York. My partner is incredibly tough and resourceful - she biked several miles to work, in NYC traffic, up until her 7th month. Despite a relatively easy and trouble-free pregnancy, she still got tired out from time to time, and it was incredible how rarely she was offered a seat on the subway.
posted by dubold at 3:53 PM on December 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


[Hey, folks, you think you could all collectively cool it a bit? This eatyourcellphone vs. everyone thing is turning into kind of an epic mess, and it'd be great if that could stop.

And eatyourcellphone, that really, really includes you dialing it back pronto.]

posted by cortex at 3:53 PM on December 10, 2009


a coach's conduct would have to be found to be reckless.

And given the state of the "Right to Life" factions in this country, I'd have to say any fear he may have had of the mere allowance of a pregnant woman to take the court would be construed as reckless, would be a reasonable fear--even if the actual likelihood of that were less than the fear.
posted by stevis23 at 3:54 PM on December 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Legions of old people demand to be helped across the street

Old age is not a lifestyle choice. As I said, one of my objections to the pregnancy/mommy mafia is that they take away public attention and concern from the disabled and infirm elderly, who are more deserving. Learn to read. If you choose to get pregnant, take care of yourself, instead of expect the world around you to act as nursemaid. The bizarre analogy you draw between two entirely dissimilar conditions is your own problem. Don't try to paint me as some kind of granny-hater because I expect 25-year-old women to shift for themselves.
posted by eatyourcellphone at 3:56 PM on December 10, 2009


MeTa. Please.
posted by zarq at 3:57 PM on December 10, 2009


Old age is not a lifestyle choice.

Sure it is, every bit as much as pregnancy. Both are entirely preventable and terminable.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:59 PM on December 10, 2009 [7 favorites]


Same here. It's not only polite, it's the law in New York.

It is? I live here and had no idea. Cool.

Despite a relatively easy and trouble-free pregnancy, she still got tired out from time to time, and it was incredible how rarely she was offered a seat on the subway.

My wife only rarely came into the city after her first trimester. But she showed very early because she was carrying twins.

We noticed that the people who got up and offered her seats were *always* women. Every single time. In fact, the folks giving up their seats were almost always women who were in their 40's or older.
posted by zarq at 4:00 PM on December 10, 2009


Competitive sports are stupid.
posted by ovvl at 4:00 PM on December 10, 2009


Old age is not a lifestyle choice.

Sorry, I forgot to include the HAMBURGER.
posted by chiababe at 4:01 PM on December 10, 2009


As I said, one of my objections to the pregnancy/mommy mafia

Do you kiss your mother with that mouth? Honestly. Someone gave birth to YOU. Do you treat HER with this kind of disdain? It's not a mafia. Or a cabal. Or even a secret club. It's just women. Doing what women have done since time immemorial to further the survival of the species.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 4:01 PM on December 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


My mom participated in a bike race while 8.5 months pregnant with my younger brother. Zero women had signed up to race in her division, so she got a first-place trophy for finishing, and apparently quite a bit encouragement from the spectators!
posted by kaibutsu at 4:40 PM on December 10, 2009


One thing to consider is that while the doctor's recommendations might be possible to follow while playing, they're pretty much impossible while training (a 140 pulse rate, for someone her age, is barely even aerobic.) So she's probably either having to skip practice or take it extremely easy, either one of which would likely get anyone's playing time cut.

In any case, I don't blame the coach. The conditions given by the doctor are impossible to reliably follow - a 140 pulse rate can be attained by nothing more than walking quickly. Someone who can't raise their pulse above that, for whatever reason, shouldn't be playing any sport. And if her pregnancy goes wrong later, for whatever reason, she might blame the coach for working her too hard, etc. regardless of whether he did or not. He can't really prove he didn't.

Disclosing the pregnancy wasn't ok, though.
posted by Mitrovarr at 4:47 PM on December 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


But what month does she become visibly pregnant?

anniecat, in my experience, somewhere between the second month (rare) and the end of the ninth month (usually visually indicated by the broken water, crying baby, and afterbirth - also rare, but it has happened).

Then you wrote:
And by "kicked by a toddler" I mean specifically in the stomach and not just wherever.

Toddlers must have some long legs.


... and at that point I knew you had little-to-no actual experience with toddlers nor pregnant women.

Seriously. You're working from pure theory. This is not a sci-fi thread.
posted by IAmBroom at 5:01 PM on December 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Competitive sports are stupid.

Really? Why do you think/feel this way?
posted by ericb at 5:10 PM on December 10, 2009


My guess is the school is trying to avoid the public "OMG! They encouraged the poor girl to play even though she was pregnant!! What bastards!" reaction because they can see that they will instantly get blamed and plastered all over the news if anything at all goes wrong with her pregnancy or if a teammate bumps her the wrong way. Maybe they just thought that dealing with the public "OMG! They're not letting her play because she is pregnant!! What bastards!" reaction would be easier to deflect.

The whole thing sounds like a silly issue to make a big deal about.
posted by Avelwood at 5:12 PM on December 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yes, and why hold the door for a woman? They gave up their rights to that kind of politeness when they demanded the vote!
Actually, if you would not hold a door for a man in a similar situation then, yeah, don't hold the door at all.
posted by Karmakaze at 5:16 PM on December 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


We noticed that the people who got up and offered her seats were *always* women. Every single time. In fact, the folks giving up their seats were almost always women who were in their 40's or older.

Because we remember what it is like to stand for long periods of time while pregnant. Walking? Jogging? Biking? Not too bad up until about 7.5 to 8 months. But standing is really tiresome because of the way your back muscles have to work harder.

Many people seemed to believe the coach was damned if he did X, damned if he did Y but what about if he had done Z? Seriously, how hard would it have been for him to meet with the player and her mom and maybe the principal and convey his concerns? He actions seemed more punitive to me-- less like the actions of someone who was concerned about his player and her unborn child.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:31 PM on December 10, 2009


I'm late to this, but:

Because the privilege is so deeply entrenched that it's invisible. People like chiababe say 'but it's just kindness!", because our immediate acquiescence to the demands of the pregnant is so automatic that it looks natural and just 'common decency'. Anyone who doesn't give in without a fight gets punished - as this coach is being punished. An invisible knapsack is an invisible knapsack, even if it's carried at the front and disguised as a baby-bump.

Holy shit.
posted by jokeefe at 5:39 PM on December 10, 2009


>> ...high school girls shouldn't be pregnant.
>
> Really? Why?
> posted by ericb at 5:30 PM on December 10

facepalm. Because

-- Parenthood is the leading reason why teen girls drop out of school. Less than half of teen mothers ever graduate from high school and fewer than two percent earn a college degree by age 30.
-- Children of teen mothers do worse in school than those born to older parents -- they are 50 percent more likely to repeat a grade, are less likely to complete high school than the children of older mothers, and have lower performance on standardized tests.
-- Pregnant teens are far less likely to receive adequate prenatal care than those who get pregnant at a later age. The children of teen mothers are more likely to be born prematurely and at low birthweight and are two times more likely to suffer abuse and neglect compared to children of older mothers. Teen mothers are also more likely to smoke during pregnancy.
-- Two-thirds of families begun by a young unmarried mother are poor. More than half of all mothers on welfare had their first child as a teenager.
-- Eight out of ten teenage fathers don't marry the mother of their child. These absent fathers pay less than $800 annually for child support, often because they are poor themselves. Children who live apart from their fathers are five times more likely to be poor than children with both parents at home.
-- The daughters of young teen mothers are three times more likely to become teen mothers themselves
-- The sons of teen mothers are twice as likely to end up in prison.

... among a very well known litany of other reasons.


> She's a "setter." That position does not dive or bump.

They don't rotate positions? What fun is that? How do they get those wonderful height mismatches at the net?
posted by jfuller at 5:41 PM on December 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


We noticed that the people who got up and offered her seats were *always* women. Every single time. In fact, the folks giving up their seats were almost always women who were in their 40's or older.

I always give up my seat to any noticeably pregnant woman, or someone who is handicapped, or the very elderly. The first is because I have been there myself and can emphasize, and the latter two are because I might be in their place someday myself.

I have never, ever, heard a pregnant woman demand a seat from someone. I have met some really cranky elderly folks, and some downright rude handicapped people, but everyone has bad days. And should I live to be a hundred, I plan to be downright crochety myself.
posted by misha at 5:59 PM on December 10, 2009


Like 5 boys a year are put in wheelchairs for life by Texas High school football and everybody is up in arms at the remote possibility that a girl MIGHT miss-carry on the volleyball court?
posted by Megafly at 6:04 PM on December 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


She's a "setter." That position does not dive or bump.

No, she was decribed as a 'squatter' upthread.
posted by fixedgear at 6:22 PM on December 10, 2009


Can I suggest that Part 2 of this article MIGHT have read: "TEXAS HIGHSCHOOL OKAY'ED PREGNANT GIRL TO PLAY VOLLEYBALL; STUDENT SUING DISTRCIT FOR 80945789457954 SKAZIILION DOLLARS REGARDING MISCARRIAGE".

Lose/loser situation. Coach is still a jerk.
posted by GilloD at 6:49 PM on December 10, 2009


jfuller: "facepalm. Because
...
... among a very well known litany of other reasons.
"

Correlation is not causation.

Also, you know what terrible things poverty is associated with? That is why people shouldn't be poor. Which is why I support banning poor people from playing volleyball.

Wait, what?
posted by alexei at 6:58 PM on December 10, 2009


If they're trying to devise a method for violating FERPA and HIPAA simultaneously, they're headed in the right direction.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 7:19 PM on December 10, 2009


Sorry. If she wants to exercise on her own, that's fine. But she's on a team that participates in sporting events with other teams. She may have decided that it's a risk that she's willing to accept, but what gives her the right to not let others make that informed decision? What kind of emotional damage would it do to one of her team mates or an opposing player if they found out that they'd caused her to miscarry. It's not all about her.

As for those who say the coach isn't a doctor, that cuts both ways. The doctor isn't an expert on volleyball, so I don't see how he could accurately assess the specific risk involved.

As for those who criticize the coach for revealing this to her team mates, we have no idea how this went down. Most of you are assuming that he was being vindictive. It could very well be that he pulled a player aside when they nearly hit her with a ball and warned them about her condition. He'd already change her hours, because of her changed playing style. It's unrealistic to think that he wouldn't get questions about that. Once again, it's not all about her. She has no right to deny her team mates the choice to not participate in her idiot lottery.
posted by snookums at 8:04 PM on December 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


eatyourcellphone:one of my objections to the 'make way for preggos' faction is precisely that pregnant women take away seats on public transport and parking spaces that could be more usefully allocated to the disabled and infirm elderly

No way, being elderly and/or infirm is just as much a lifestyle choice. Why should I give up my seat on the bus for someone who didn't have the good sense to off themselves before they starting crapping themselves and watching Matlock?

Fuck that, I want to ride to Arby's in COMFORT.
posted by dr_dank at 8:44 PM on December 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


Correlation is not causation. Also, you know what terrible things poverty is associated with? That is why people shouldn't be poor. Which is why I support banning poor people from playing volleyball. Wait, what?

So are you saying teen girls should be pregnant? Or that the only way to know if a teen girl should be pregnant is to look at what happens afterward, because every snowflake is unique and correlation is not causation? Or what?

I'd dearly love to figure out how someone can take issue with the statement "high school girls shouldn't be pregnant."
posted by five fresh fish at 9:48 PM on December 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Aren't pregnant women renown for their sudden changes in emotional state?

I can't see that being compatible with team sports.

On the other hand, I'm sure a pissed-off pregnant woman would be a formidable opponent. That's why I give up the bus seat: pure fear.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:53 PM on December 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


We noticed that the people who got up and offered her seats were *always* women. Every single time. In fact, the folks giving up their seats were almost always women who were in their 40's or older.

Weird. My wife had the opposite experience; young guys were great when she was pregant, offering to carry bags and whatnot. Middle-aged and up? Not so much.

Seriously. You're working from pure theory. This is not a sci-fi thread.

Metafilter attracts that.

Actually, if you would not hold a door for a man in a similar situation then, yeah, don't hold the door at all.

Seconded.
posted by rodgerd at 11:17 PM on December 10, 2009




What bugs me is how many people without medical training of any variety think they know better than the girl's doctor does.

Never stopped anybody on the blue before. I'm a lawyer and on askmefi it is a total battle just to stop the most hare-brained legally-brain dead advice from getting out there.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:43 PM on December 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


What bugs me is how many people without medical training of any variety think they know better than the girl's doctor does.

He did contradict himself:

School: This is too dangerous, she can't do it.

Doctor: She can do it as long as she keeps her pulse down below 140 and only experiences limited contact.

School: Those are not requirements we can fulfill.

Doctor: Fine, whatever, she can do it regardless.

School: So were you lying the first time, or are you now?
posted by Mitrovarr at 11:49 PM on December 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Mitrovarr: So were you lying the first time, or are you now?

Because it's not possible that someone, having taken a second look at the question and thought about the risks involved, may have changed his mind?

snookums: What kind of emotional damage would it do to one of her team mates or an opposing player if they found out that they'd caused her to miscarry.

Well given that the kinds of trauma needed to cause a miscarriage at this stage involve multiple broken bones, severe blood loss, septicemia, and/or organ failure, I'm sure that player would feel devastated after having put her into the intensive care ward.

But I wonder, would we be so protective of a player's health if he or she had a history of asthma or epilepsy, had donated a kidney, or a potentially lethal bee-sting allergy?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:40 AM on December 11, 2009


five fresh fish: I'd dearly love to figure out how someone can take issue with the statement "high school girls shouldn't be pregnant."

When that phrase is used to justify arbitrary discrimination against them? There is a big difference between:
1: high school girls shouldn't be pregnant, therefore we need comprehensive sex education programs.

2: high school girls shouldn't be pregnant, therefore she deserves to be cut from the team.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:42 AM on December 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


But I wonder, would we be so protective of a player's health if he or she had a history of asthma or epilepsy, had donated a kidney, or a potentially lethal bee-sting allergy?

I have epilepsy and I once had a teacher question my fitness to take a drawing class, so yeah, I would go with "stupid discrimination exists stupidly."
posted by grapefruitmoon at 6:50 AM on December 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


I kind of agree that the coach is in a damned-if-you-do damned-if-you-don't position. I wish coaches would take conditions other than pregnancy more seriously though. For example, if Joe Footballer gets a concussion during practice on Saturday, I would support the coach preventing him from playing on Sunday, because a second concussion from that game is much more dangerous to him than a first concussion is to any other player. Even if a doctor did write Joe Footballer a note, it would have to include caveats like "exercise is okay as long as there is no contact" which could not be followed without putting the team at a disadvantage. I would support the coach taking Joe Footballer out of the game, so I feel the same in this situation.
posted by fermezporte at 8:05 AM on December 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


had donated a kidney

Generally people who have donated a kidney cannot play contact sports like football. I'm not sure of the specifics for other sports however.
posted by fermezporte at 8:09 AM on December 11, 2009


I kind of agree that the coach is in a damned-if-you-do damned-if-you-don't position.

No he's not. And I really wish people would stop disingenuously comparing the probability of an extremely unlikely event to the certainty of violating the laws and regulations that govern his sport.

Generally people who have donated a kidney cannot play contact sports like football. I'm not sure of the specifics for other sports however.

Melissa Schwen won a bronze medal in rowing in 2000 after donating a kidney.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:18 AM on December 11, 2009


Natural parenting
posted by caddis at 8:28 AM on December 11, 2009


No he's not. And I really wish people would stop disingenuously comparing the probability of an extremely unlikely event to the certainty of violating the laws and regulations that govern his sport.

What laws and regulations govern how much playing time he has to give to each player? He's the coach of a team sport and he has final say over who plays and how much they play based on (presumably) the best interests of his team. This has been the primary fallacy of this entire thread that the coach was violating some kind of human right by making adjustments to his squad. By the pregnant player's own admission she changed her playing style to avoid dives and floor contact. Also, how was the coach to know whether the player in question would continue through to the end of the season? The changes the coach made seem entirely reasonable to me and there is zero evidence that there was any malice behind them.
This is manufactured outrage mostly due to ESPN's shoddy reporting and the FPP's added editorializing. The post never should have been allowed to stand.
posted by rocket88 at 8:28 AM on December 11, 2009


While Olympic-level volleyball is vastly more strenuous than HS, it's just another data point.

Not really. Walsh and May-Treanor are international celebrities on the beach volleyball tour. When they're not playing they're making public appearances, modeling, or flying to and fro to all these events. And they're playing on sand, which is a much tougher surface to play on than a gym floor.

Could they play pregnant? More than likely, at least until their energy starts to wane sometime in their second trimester. Could they play AND keep up the public appearance schedule while pregnant? That's less likely.

Comparing two sports celebrities to a high school girl is more a tale of contrasts than similarities. The only things they have in common are their gender and a volleyball.
posted by dw at 8:29 AM on December 11, 2009


rocket88: What laws and regulations govern how much playing time he has to give to each player? He's the coach of a team sport and he has final say over who plays and how much they play based on (presumably) the best interests of his team. This has been the primary fallacy of this entire thread that the coach was violating some kind of human right by making adjustments to his squad.

And the bullshit gets deeper. Coaches of student athletics are bound by Title XI which prohibits arbitrary discrimination and reprisal against those who make complaints about discrimination.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:35 AM on December 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


That is, Title IX.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:36 AM on December 11, 2009


Now coaches can create objective performance criteria around dives and floor contact. That's another matter, but it's not clear that's what's going on here.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:51 AM on December 11, 2009


And I'm confident that the Title IX investigation will show that no arbitrary discrimination occurred. She was allowed back on the team and allowed to play, just not enough in her (and her mother's) opinion. Like most things, the real story was too boring for ESPN to cover, so they spun it as a controversy.
posted by rocket88 at 8:54 AM on December 11, 2009


"Generally people who have donated a kidney cannot play contact sports like football. I'm not sure of the specifics for other sports however."

I'm not sure about doctors and coaches but volleyball is considered to be a contact sport[PDF] by the NATA and ATCs.
posted by Mitheral at 12:38 PM on December 11, 2009


I really find myself asking ``would this be different if she was a rugby or hockey player``
posted by tehloki at 12:19 AM on December 12, 2009


augh what
no firefox i don`t want my keyboard in french mode
eèè``èèèèèè``ààà``i``aòiòi``èèaè``ccc.,z.,x.zx,.é.,
posted by tehloki at 12:19 AM on December 12, 2009


This link was useful for getting firefox out of french Canadian mode. If any of you all are Canadians you should probably turn off the "rotate keyboard layouts" global hotkey so you don't spend hours trying to figure out why / comes out as e avec accent aigu
posted by tehloki at 12:51 AM on December 13, 2009


Oddly.
posted by Pax at 3:01 PM on December 15, 2009


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