ERIE, Pa. -- When the Erie School District began girl's bowling to comply with Title IX, they didn't expect a boy would want to join the team.
"I joked about it, but if I have to join the girls' team to bowl, I will," said David Conklin, a 17-year-old Central High School junior.
The district added girls' bowling to its sports roster to comply with gender sports parity required by the 1972 federal law known as Title IX.
While the law is intended to ensure schools offer girls equal athletic opportunities, Erie School District solicitor Donald Wright said it should apply to boys seeking to participate in traditionally girls-only sports as well.
Gus Picardo, the district's athletic director, said Conklin should join a bowling league and let the school's team remain exclusively female.
"If he's a competitive bowler, he can join any league he wants and it will be a lot more competitive than bowling against girls," Picardo said. "How much competition is there going to be in a girls' league?"
The team has finished first in its league for the last six years, with players scoring averages between 139 and 160. Conklin, who started bowling when he was in seventh grade and works at a bowling alley, had a 202 average last summer.
"We would have to restructure the whole league," Central bowling coach Greg Holland said of Conklin joining the team. "Somebody like David coming in with a 200 average would really throw off the whole system.'
Conklin said he bowls in a Saturday morning league, but he needs to play for a school team to qualify for possible scholarships.
He said he is trying to start an intramural bowling league for boys because other boys at Central have expressed interest in playing. But such teams compete only with other students in their school and they, too, lack scholarship clout, Conklin said.
Wright said Central could add a boys' bowling team to its sports roster, but the school would have to add another sport for girls to keep the offerings for each gender equal. District officials want to avoid the expense of adding two new sports.
It is too late for Conklin to try out for bowling in the current school year. He said that if he can't organize an intramural boys' team, he may try out for the girls' team next fall.
"I just want to bowl, and if that's what I have to do, that's what I have to do," he said.
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