The Pee Wee Football Association of Mesquite, Texas is banning one young boy for being too big.
6’1”, 297 lbs.
Elijah Earnheart is not your typical seventh grader. In fact, he towers over many of your typical seventh graders. At 6 feet 1 inch and 297 pounds, Elijah is much bigger than his peers are. Elijah dreams of playing football;
The Pee Wee Football Leagues states seventh graders over 135 pounds cannot play in the league, according to Ronnie Henderson, president for the Pee Wee Football Association. Henderson said in statement, “The rules clearly state that if you are in the seventh grade, big and strong, you should play seventh grade football.” For sixth graders, the weight limit is 160 pounds.
Henderson suggested Elijah play in a school league or a select league around town that does not have weight requirements. Elijah does not want to play in a school or select league because of he feels he does not have the experience necessary for these leagues. “I don’t want to play in school right now because it’s people that’s had experience and I want to get some experience first then start playing,” Elijah states.
Should Elijah play?
Like Elijah, his mother Cindy Earnheart is not happy with the requirements set forth by the Pee Wee Football League. The boy’s mother plans to protest her decision with signs and shirts saying, “Let Elijah Play.” She feels Elijah should be able to play Pee Wee football like other boys in his grade.
Henderson says his organization is simply sticking to the rulebook that they abide by each year. Henderson says
Henderson claims the weight rule’s intention is not to keep kids from playing football, but rather promote football and allow all children a place to play.Elijah can still join the league under special provisions. He says if Elijah and boys similar to Elijah cannot find another place to play, they can join a team for the league but must wear an X on their helmets. The X restricts them from playing positions close to the line.
The goal of football organizations and youth sport organizations nationwide is to provide team sports for children and teenagers with inclusive leagues. Elijah’s circumstance ignites the debate as to what inclusivity entails.
At a liberal level, it could mean letting everyone play at whatever level they chose. On the other hand, inclusivity could mean preserving a place for smaller kids who cannot compete against larger friends on a physical level. Either scenario, leads Mesquite’s Pee Wee Football Association and the Earnheart family to arrive at different conclusions.
Henderson concludes, “We are here for all the kids. We are looking out for the smaller kids as well as the bigger kids. We want to make sure there is a safe place to play for everyone.”
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Football on any level is a dangerous sport. Pee Wee, school league, college and professional football players are all susceptible to injury. One of the most common football related injuries is a concussion. Each year thousands of children and adults receive concussions on the football field. What many people do not know is a simple a concussion can lead to a more serious condition known as a traumatic brain injury. The Strom Law Firm represents individuals in South Carolina and around the country in traumatic brain injury litigation. If you have received a traumatic brain injury, call us today for a free consultation. 803.252.4800.