Most kids are rewarded for excelling in school, but 12-year-old Michael Nowd of Massachusetts was shunned by his football league after skipping a grade.
Although only four games remain this season for the Central Mass Youth Football and Cheerleading Conference, Nowd was informed that he is no longer welcome to play with the his team, the Bengals, after the organization received an anonymous complaint.
Although Nowd was the same age as the rest of the players on his team, he is now being forced to transfer to a team with older players that share his new grade level.
Nowd had played with the same team for the past seven years.
“Football is kind of my life,” he told CBS Boston, “This is my favorite sport and I love coming here.”
Nowd’s mother Dianne said, “I feel like they’re discriminating against a kid for being smart.”
According to Conference rules, Nowd would be allowed to play with his team had he been held back a grade instead of skipping ahead. Nowd is younger than half of the players on the Bengals, and is a comparable size.
Nowd’s teammates were upset over the decision, and declared they would forfeit Saturday’s game rather than play without their longtime friend.
Said team quarterback Donovan Powell, “All of us were saying, ‘If he can’t play, we don’t want to play.”
Ultimately, Nowd convinced them to play without him. According to head coach Steve Powell, “He said, ‘It’s not about me. It’s about the team,’ and that’s the type of kid he is.”
Despite the Conference’s rigid stance, the team hopes that the America Youth Football league will reverse their decision.
Said Dianne Nowd, “(We would like) a waiver, and then in the off season get something on the books that addresses academically excelling students, not just students that are retained.”