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After learning that their fifth-grade basketball team would have to kick off the two female members in order to keep playing, the nine boys on a New Jersey Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) league squad had a decision to make: Continue on with the season as an all-male team or unite together and face the consequences.
And so, they chose the latter. Which meant the squad would have to forfeit the rest of its season. But in doing so, the St. John’s team in the CYO league in Clark, New Jersey, provided plenty of inspiration in the name of equality and fair play and showed that sometimes 10-year-olds can make better decisions than the adults in charge of them.
As NJ.com reports, the St. John’s squad had been told by the CYO league director that it never should have been allowed to compete as a co-ed team, and for the final two games of the season, the two girls could not play.
Instead of the parents deciding how to proceed, they asked the kids to take a vote on what to do. Here’s what happened.
Even after they knew they were destroying the season, the team’s members clearly didn’t care, leading some parents to tear up with pride.
As NJ.com reported, the archdiocese of Newark had made the decision to remove the two girls two weeks prior, because the rules of the league specifically say the teams can’t be co-ed. The St. John’s athletic director later said he had make a mistake letting the team play as co-ed for the previous four years. But the CYO wouldn’t relent in allowing the squad to finish the season together.
As the team’s coach, Rob Martel, said, “This is adults that couldn’t figure out to let the kids play two more games.”
Luckily, the 11 10-year-olds knew exactly what they needed to do to make things fair for everybody on their team. Yes, they ended the season prematurely. But the lesson they taught everybody was something they’ll take for the rest of their lives.
Josh Katzowitz is a staff writer at the Daily Dot specializing in YouTube and boxing. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times. A longtime sports writer, he's covered the NFL for CBSSports.com and boxing for Forbes. His work has been noted twice in the Best American Sports Writing book series.