Michael Nowd, a Lunenburg youth football player, has been told that he can no longer play with his team because he is a year ahead of them in school.
Nowd, 12 and in the eighth grade, has played on the seventh grade team, the same team he has played with for about eight years.
So why was an eight grader playing on the seventh grade team? According to Sentinel and Enterprise, Nowd has played with his team since Kindergarten because his hometown did not have a team option for his age level.
CBS Boston stated that Nowd was the same age and grade as all of his teammates, but after he skipped a grade in school because he was excelling academically, he was a grade ahead of his teammates.
The report continues on to say that recently, an anonymous complaint to the Central Mass Youth Football and Cheerleading Conference brought this issue to light, and conference officials have told Nowd that he no longer is allowed to play with his team.
In other words, if he want’s to continue playing, then he must transfer to an older team, one that has kids not only older, but larger than him.
“I feel like they’re discriminating against a kid for being smart,” said Nowd’s mother, Dianne.
According to CBS Boston, Nowd isn’t any bigger than the rest of his current team members, and is even younger than half of them.
The report continued on to say that a league spokesperson told WBZ-TV national rules dictate kids must play with the team for their grade level.
Michael Nowd stated that football is his life: “This is my favorite sport and I love coming here.”
According to Sentinel and Enterprise, Steve Powell, Nowd’s coach, thinks this ruling is unfair for the boy.
“We practice four days per week, two hours per night, and to see any kid put all that work in then have to tell him mid-season that he can’t play anymore is tough, as a coach,” Powell said.
“Especially when you preach to these kids to work hard in school, and then to have this happen is pretty devastating.”
He goes on to say that this youth organization is the only one that he has been involved in which has the grade requirement.
“It’s just a shame because it is not a safety issue. He’s 12 and could be as old as 13 and still play on this team. They reward a kid for staying back, but they punish a kid for academically succeeding. It just doesn’t make sense.”
“This kid lives and breathes football,” Dianne, said. “It is absolutely killing him to think he might be done (for the season), and this is his last year as a Bengal. He’s been with this team for eight years and all he wants to do is play. It’s hard for him (and us) to understand why he can’t play.”
The team honored Michael Nowd and all agree that it is unfair for him to have to quite mid-season.
“It’s truly a family, and his teammates are his closest friends,” said Diane.
[Image via Shutterstock/David Lee]