A 12-year-old boy in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas area who is six feet tall and weighs 300 pounds is being denied the opportunity to play football with his friends, thanks to his size.

Elijah Earnheart had been practicing with the Mesquite Vikings, a Pee Wee Football Association team, for several weeks. However, during a preseason weigh-in, he was told he’s too big and therefore cannot play. Apparently, there is a rule where any seventh grader over 135 pounds is barred from the pee wee league. He can play in a school league, but his mother feels he is not ready to play against older kids with more experience.

“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 and then start playing,” Earnheart said. “I just want to play because my teammates are my friends. I know them. I don’t want to go play for somebody else I don’t know.”

Coach Marc Wright is also protesting the decision to prevent Earnheart from playing, since other seventh graders are over the weight limit but haven’t been banned. Protective measures are taken in such cases. “If they’re over 135, they have to wear a symbol on their helmet, which is the ‘X.’ So if they’re an X-man, they have to play offensive line, defensive line only,” he said.

Earnheart’s mother is planning a protest, including signs and shirts that read “Let Elijah Play.” She is doing so since she refuses to sit idly by as her son comes home and cries over the situation.

She said, “This is his dream. This is what he wants to do. And I’m going to make it happen.”

However, Pee Wee Football Association President Ronnie Henderson isn’t bending the rules, claiming that other players were also banned from playing for the same reason. He also clarified that playing with an ‘X’ only applies to elementary school players. He did display sympathy for Elijah, saying, “I don’t like it for the kid or the parents.”

While we understand that Elijah Earnheart wants to play football with his friends and should not be discriminated against for his size, the Pee Wee Football Association needs to consider the safety of all players. That doesn’t mean new rules shouldn’t be constituted to accommodate people like Earnheart. The rules also need to be uniform.


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