The Brown University baseball team just held walk-on tryouts for the 2023 season, but it wasn’t your standard tryout.
The Bears announced that they allowed 18-year-old Olivia Pichardo onto the roster, making Pichardo the first female to make a varsity baseball roster in NCAA Division I history.
“It was definitely a surreal moment for me because it’s something that I’ve wanted since eighth grade,” Pichardo, who is a freshman, said. “It’s kind of crazy to know that I’m living out my dream right now and my ideal college experience that I’ve always wanted, so that’s really cool.”
Brown head coach Grant Achilles said that Pichardo’s tryout was the most complete walk-on tryout he had seen in his career.
While that may be true, we should look at this incident for what it is: a publicity stunt.
The last time Brown’s baseball team had a winning season was 2009, when Pichardo was five years old (the 2020 season was suspended due to COVID and the 2021 season was canceled for the same reason, but that’s still an insane stretch).Naturally, the Bears want to be back in the national conversation (or at the very least relevant in their conference), but since they can’t gain relevancy through their play, why not score to progressive points with a personnel trick?
A common habit of failing college sports programs is to do something so outlandish -- and usually woke -- to gain them undeserved attention. For example, Vanderbilt University had Sarah Fuller join their team as a kicker in 2020, marking the first time a woman played in a Southeastern Conference (SEC) game. That year, the Commodores went 0-9.
Additionally, the University of Massachusetts football team purposefully scheduled a Pride Day game this season - in October - against Liberty University, a widely-known Christian school as an obvious troll attempt. The Flames got the last laugh over the Minutemen, who lost the game, 42-24, and currently sit at 1-10 with one game left.
What Brown is doing is not unprecedented or frankly surprising, but it is still disappointing. As our culture at large continues to blur the lines between the genders and says that anyone can change their gender if they want, it is disheartening to see sports teams like Brown perpetuate a narrative that there are no differences between men and women and that long-accepted and healthy boundaries for the genders should be ignored.
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