Here’s a story that comes from outside the world of football that football coaches can appreciate all the same.
As Kim Bell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch details, the parents of a 16-year-old student at Ladue Horton Watkins High School in St. Louis have filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri against the school district because their son was not allowed to join the JV boys’ soccer team.
The student, a junior, was cut from the varsity and barred by district policy from joining the JV, which is reserved for freshmen and sophomores. The parents complained to district administrators, the district superintendent and the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights; the first two sided with the coach, and the latter refused to step in, because the U.S. Department of Education has better things to do than force a single student onto a JV soccer team.
So the boy’s step-father, a lawyer, has filed a lawsuit, arguing the district is practicing age discrimination.
“There are many schools across the country that have this policy that you either make varsity as a junior or you’re out of the program,” he said. “And that’s an illegal policy. If someone said ‘Cut all the blacks,’ that would be illegal. And it’s illegal for age too.”
I’m no lawyer, but this seems to be a ridiculous argument. People of a certain race can’t help the fact that they are a member of that race, which is why it’s illegal for the district to ban them from being on the JV soccer team. But all people of every race had an equal chance to play on the JV as underclassmen and on varsity as upperclassmen.
Judge John A. Ross is reportedly supposed to enter his decision today.
I can’t speak for the atmosphere inside this home, but I can say what I would have done had I found myself in this unfortunate 16-year-old’s shoes. And that is this: I would sooner my parents run me over on their way to the courthouse than actually allow them to file a lawsuit to get me on a sports team, much less a lawsuit forcing the state to make an exception for me, a junior, to join a team full of freshmen and sophomores.
“Everyone is under the impression that he is a poor player and we’re a bunch of crybabies,” the stepfather said. “But no. He had a successful season last year, and from the statistics, it appears he should have made varsity. This suit is about Ladue refusing to follow the law with respect to age discrimination.”