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Out of his league? Yes, when it's a 300-pounder in Pee-Wee football

August 15, 2012|By Karin Klein
  • The Pee-Wee Football Assn. does not allow players' weight to exceed 135 pounds.
The Pee-Wee Football Assn. does not allow players' weight to exceed… (Rob Carr / Getty Images )

From Texas comes the tale of a 6-foot, 300-pound 12-year-old whose mother is planning to protest the rules of the Pee-Wee Football Assn. because it doesn't allow players' weight to exceed 135 pounds.

And she isn't alone. Ellijah Earnhardt's coach is also pushing the association to allow the boy into the game. Of course he is; imagine what a formidable force Elijah would be on the field.

Elijah would be allowed to play in school leagues, which allow bigger kids, but those are also generally older players with some experience. As a newcomer to the game, Elijah understandably feels a little intimidated by that prospect.

It's a hard thing to happen to a well-intentioned middle-school boy, but in this case, it's also a fair one. Excluding a person from an activity because of size would be discriminatory if there weren't a valid reason for it. In this case, the reason isn't just valid, it's necessary.

Elijah isn't just a few pounds beyond the limit. He's more than twice the weight of the kids he'd be playing with, and in an aggressive sport like football, that could be a real danger to other players. Elijah may outweigh them, but his dream of playing Pee Wee is outweighed by the right of other players to be relatively safe from injury. This would be true even if there were no other options for Elijah -- and there are.

The question is whether Elijah's dream is big enough to overcome his fear of playing with older boys. He could be a real asset to a school team and might learn all the faster by being surrounded by more knowledgeable teammates.

It's hard to be different from other kids one's age, and there's probably no harder age for that than 12. But that's not too young to learn that the needs of others sometimes take precedence.

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