Rejection is part of life. Getting rejected in school is an important part of growing up. It teaches us that not everything works out the way we want or expect it too. We learn that life goes on and when we are faced with rejection, we need to get back up, dust ourselves off and learn from the experience. People learn from their failures much more than they learn from their successes.
Of course, this is America. So rather than treating a failure like getting cut from the high school soccer team as a teaching moment, one mother decided it would be better to sue. If you don't get what you want, SUE! It's the American way. It's not the kid's fault he wasn't good enough for varsity, it's the school's fault for being a bunch of meanies, right?
So what really happened here?
Ladue, Missouri is a tiny suburb known for its sprawling mansions and high median income. It is an enclave of "old money," 7 miles west of St. Louis.
Controversy is rare in the quiet town, but now comes this lawsuit. The unnamed family is suing the town's school district on the grounds that their son, named "John Doe" in the lawsuit, is being discriminated against by the coach and the school on account of his age. Doe is a junior at Ladue Horton Watkins Senior High School and this past summer he was cut from the varsity soccer team. He wasn't good enough to play for the team. Surprisingly, the family is ok with this with this fact,
So why then, are they suing?
Well, part of the reason here is that Jon Doe also wasn't allowed to join the JV team. The rules of the school's soccer program state that juniors and seniors are no longer eligible to play for the junior varsity teams. The school and the coach of both the girl's and boy's teams, Coach Dave Aronberg, say that this encourages the development of the younger players, giving freshman and sophomores the opportunity to play and not get bogged down behind older students.
The lawsuit also claims that the rule is sexist, pointing out that historically at the school district, female juniors have been allowed to play on the girl's JV team.
John Doe's mother, listed as "Jane Doe" in the lawsuit and the boy's stepfather, who is the lead attorney on the case along with another lawyer who is consulting on the case, Eddie Ernest, say this policy is discriminatory by age and gender and is anti-constitutional.
There is a major hole in that argument though.
The flaw in the argument is that the policy isn't based on age, it's based on grade level. Grade levels are not a protected class in America, last we checked, and a judge agrees with us.
In a hearing to get the boy added to the JV team while the case is proceeding through the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, District Court Judge John A. Ross ruled against the family, saying in his ruling that the court "concludes that a junior-grade-based policy would not be unconstitutional, even if it existed...Thus a district policy precluding juniors---or any other grade---from participating in a program or service would not support an ADA claim."
The judge further concludes that the policy is not sexist either, as "juniors have, on occasion, played on both the boys' and girls' teams in the last seven years. That this has happened more often for the girls' team only bolsters Coach Aronberg's explanation that the number of students trying out---which is substantially higher for the boys---has a significant effect on the rostering of junior boys."
The ruling not only keeps John Doe off the team, but it appears to be a serious blow to their lawsuit going forward as the judge is essentially saying the policy is not discrimination.
The whole thing just seems ridiculous. Kids get cut from school sports teams all time. Even Michael Jordan was cut from his varsity basketball team (granted he was a sophomore, and easily made varsity the following year). Yet this family apparently paid for all kinds of private coaching, according to the newspaper story, and he was still cut. He just wasn't good enough for varsity, and there wasn't room for him on junior varsity. Rather than wasting their time and federal money, maybe the kid should just learn a new hobby. It would be more productive for everyone and the sooner this kid figures out he's not headed for the MLS (or his parents figure this out), the better they'll all be.
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