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Commentary: South Carolina must protect our female athletes


McGee Moody

Recently, there’s been a push to allow male athletes to compete against female athletes in sports. In the year when Title IX turns 50, we can’t let this happen.

South Carolina’s Legislature, like many across the country, is considering a bill that would protect fairness in women’s sports.

As a former collegiate swimming coach and the father of four daughters, I can say firsthand that this legislation is needed.

I’ve been coaching men’s and women’s swimming for 25 years, the last 14 of which were at the University of South Carolina. I’ve held positions on the coaching staff of the U.S. national team, and I’ve had the honor of coaching numerous All-Americans and Olympians. After 25 years of coaching, I understand the importance of making sure female athletes have a level playing field for competition.

In swimming, the concept of time is represented by speed, power and force applied upon the water, all of which are affected by physiological traits such as height, weight, muscle growth, hand size and foot size. In all of these areas, males have an athletic advantage as a result of testosterone production during puberty.

This fact is reflected in the almost 10% performance gap between male and female athletes by the age of 18, placing women at a competitive disadvantage that is nearly impossible to overcome.

In a sport where victory can be decided by mere hundredths of a second, these physiological advantages make a huge difference. It’s why USA Swimming, the governing body of our sport, places different time standards on male and female athletes for entrance into competitions.

Despite what the NCAA might say, one year of testosterone suppression does not and cannot change years of muscle growth and testosterone production.

As a coach, I worked very hard to be a voice for my female athletes and to protect their right to fair competition. As a father, I will never tell my daughters they are unable to be successful on any level.

However, I will not stand idly by and let the deck be stacked against these women and girls.

We cannot let the hard-fought work of so many to ensure equal opportunities for female athletes be reversed by allowing men to compete in women’s sports.

When we ignore biological reality, female athletes lose medals, public recognition and opportunities to compete.

South Carolina now has the chance to pass legislation that would protect our female athletes from these losses.

Since 2020, 14 states have enacted laws like the Save Women’s Sports Act  with more likely to pass this year. Yet for some reason, this legislation has been stalling here in South Carolina. Passing the Save Women’s Sports Act (H.4608 and S.531) would send a strong message to our women and girls that their elected officials are willing to take a stand to protect their right to fair athletic competition.

I strongly urge our legislators to take the Save Women’s Sports Act across the finish line to make sure what we’ve seen happening to women and girls across the country cannot happen in South Carolina.

McGee Moody is a former head swimming coach at the University of South Carolina. 

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