Thursday, August 11, 2011

High School Football Player with Down Syndrome Not Allowed to Participate Due to Age Restrictions

by Jeff Fisher
High School Football America

Courtesy: Let Brett Bowden Play 
Facebook Page
Here's a story that proves that sometimes rules are meant to be broken or at least in some cases need to be bent.

On the surface, the North Carolina High School Athletic Association is doing the right thing by following its rule to not allow 19-year old Brett Bowden of Hobbton High School (North Carolina) to practice and play with his team because he is over the state's age limit for participation.  However, Bowden, who is a junior, has down syndrome and this is where, I think, common sense needs to come.

Bowden has spent the last two season wearing a full uniform during the games and practicing with his teammates.

According to several published reports, Bowden's teammates and the community have found his position on the team to be inspirational.  That is evidenced by the fact that more than 47,000 people have signed-up for the "Let Brett Bowden Play" Facebook page in the last two days.

The rule states that student-athletes who turn 19 on or before August 31st are ineligible to play.  Brett turned 19 in May.

Yesterday, one story headline from read that the Brett had been "kick-off the team".  That caused NCHSAA commissioner Davis Whitfield to issue a statement that reads:

"I want to be clear that the student-athlete has not been 'kicked off the team,' " Whitfield said. "Brett Bowden could still be a part of the team, lead his team on the field, wear his jersey and be with his teammates, including some of the postgame activities he has done in the past."

Bottom line here, I do believe that rules are rules.  However, in this case, what is it going to hurt to allow Brett to suit up for the games as long as he doesn't go onto the field to participate in an actual game?

Here's hoping that common sense prevails and Brett is allowed to wear his uniform proudly once again!

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