By Christina Hager, WBZ-TV

GROTON (CBS) — Kids who play football in Groton are being punished because they don’t have cheerleaders on their sidelines.

The Groton-Dunstable Crusaders are part of the American Youth Football League. The sixth and eighth grade teams won enough games this season to qualify for the league’s regional playoffs, which could potentially lead to the national championship in Florida.

But this week, the team got some bad news. It’s being banned from the regional championships, because of a bylaw that requires them to have a cheerleading squad.

“Now you’re penalizing kids who’ve worked hard all year. We have plenty of girls playing girl’s sports at this point. The interest level’s not there for cheerleading,” says David Howes, president of Groton-Dunstable Youth Football. He even has cheerleading uniforms in storage, but no one to wear them, and no one to coach a squad.

“We’ve all been wanting to go to Florida. It’s a big thing around here,” says player Edward Murray.

“Cheerleading’s great, but it has nothing to do with my football player. I think it’s crazy,” says Andrea Gayman, whose son is on the sixth grade team.

The team is still allowed to compete in the local play-offs this weekend, but can’t advance beyond that.

An attorney with the national American Youth Football organization, based in Miami, says he’s looking into why the league’s New England Conference has such a bylaw.

“That’s definitely not an AYFL rule. Nobody should be precluded for those reasons…we are very inclusive,” says Adam Lawfer.

Comments (40)
  1. thomas gertsch says:

    yep..just another way of politics wanting drama to erase some issues there trying to hide or shove under the mat,, no way is it or shall it be legal.. .. the dusty law as they put it needs to be cleaned,,but god forbid a politician in new england has clean hands or pockets. let em play oh wait,,will they be taxed for audiences as well

    1. P. Caravoulias says:

      When these little girls go to their regional “cheerleading” competitions are they required to have a football team accompany them ? Rather absurd idea, but it’s about the football game, isn’t it ? Besides, from what I’ve observed, it’s no longer about leading cheers with the fans, it’s more of a gymnastics/dance routine. Most of the cheerleaders are quite oblivious to what is taking place on the gridiron anyway..

    2. Tulip says:

      My daughter has wanted to be a cheerleader for two years now for Groton/Dunstable but have been told there aren’t any coaches..the interest is there..however, the boys should be able to play regardless

    3. Osmo says:

      Take the meds. Really. They’ll help.

  2. Just Me says:

    I’ve got an idea. since we all know the AYFL won’t make a change to the bylaws in time for the kids to play: The parents that will join the boys on their trip should grab the pom poms and have t-shirts printed with something like Groton-Dunstable cheerleaders and be the cheerleaders.

  3. brat says:

    Then they wonder why kids are disrespectful to adults. This has got to be the dumbest idea yet. AYFL needs to put kids in charge. The adults blew it big time.

  4. anon says:

    If the team advances, maybe a couple of NE Patriots cheerleaders can cheer for them as a symbolic gesture to represent New England, while this old law gets cleared up.

  5. K MAN says:

    Maybe we can get a few Patriot Cheerleaders to cheer for us when we advance to the Patriot Bowl.

  6. truth be told says:

    Maybe they should just follow the rules instead of doing whatever they want….Who are we to judge why a by-law is there, the fact is the rule is there and they knew it was there and still did not follow (not the first by-law they have broken), so maybe parents and the football players should put the blame with the correct people….There is more to this story than what is being told, do your research before throwing blame around!!!!!!

    1. noodles says:

      hey we cant put a squad together so theres no blame on us

    2. 55 says:

      Dude your wrong I’m one of the palyers there were no cheerleaders so we had to brake the thing and what’s with saying we shold have just followed the rule if we followed it we wouldent get to play in the season so you shoulder say somthing if you don’t know what your talking about

      1. BLAH says:

        NO he has been denying us a cheerleading team 4 the last 2 years

      2. koko says:

        he diddent want us to go to florida

  7. The real story says:

    People need to really talk to Mr Howes the president of Groton/Dunstable youth football and Cheerleading. He has continually stated at meetings that the parents and players in his organization have NO INTEREST in playing anything other than locally. Apparently this is not the case and he has done everything he can to make local play the only option for them. He knew last year that he had to have at least one team of 4 cheerleaders to participate in regional or national play.

    1. anon says:

      That’s the point…why does he have to have any cheerleaders at all? Whether there is interest in playing locally or not, that is not the issue. And as far as following the rules…many rules need to be updated or thrown out, they are outdated. I suppose we should all just follow along like blind sheep if we think something is wrong because that is the rule.

      1. The Real story III says:

        Anon he needs to have cheerleaders because it is football and cheer as the name of the organization states (Groton/Dunstable Youth Football and Cheer) This whole issue is about playing locally or not, if you listen to what the player said we’ve all been wanting to go to Florida. The players are still in a playoff bracket and can win the title of Patriot Bowl Champion, so it does become a local vs national competition issue. Organizations have bylaws to establish rules on how to operate, bylaws can be changed on a yearly basis based on a vote. Groton/Dunstable made no attempt to change this bylaw that they knew would effect them.

    2. The real story II says:

      Elisabeth I feel bad for your little brother, but the blame goes to the GDYFC Board or more appropriately Mr. Howes as he knew none of your football teams were eligible. All the players, coaches and parents should have been informed before this became an issue. I wish your brother and his teammates luck in the local playoff bracket.

      1. anon says:

        I’ll agree with you on that point and that made above. It’s up to the local bylaws, so the townspeople can vote this in/out.

      2. the actual story says:

        thats the problem we havent been informed ever its always been in the back of our minds but theis is the first time it ever came up

  8. elisabeth james says:

    My little brother sleeps with a football under his arm every night, watches every Patriots game and gets ready for practice a half hour early for practice. You should have seen the look on his face when he found out he couldn’t play. He worked so hard for the Superbowl and now his chances have been crushed, all because a few girls wanted to do soccer and track instead of cheerleading.

    1. Tulip says:

      There are girls out there that do not play soccer or track that DO want to cheer.

      1. anon says:

        Tulip become a coach and help out organizing a girls cheer team.

  9. Cheryl says:

    you do NOT need cheerleaders to play a football game. Most absurd thing I have ever heard. Been going to Football games for over 15 years and most of them are there to socialize they dont even cheer and they have no clue about the game so to me they are pointless.

  10. Mimi says:

    Let the Boys play Foootball, They have earned it! They’re Awesome!

  11. Enforce or Don't its not a choice says:

    The by-law of which we speak was in place last year when the GD teams made the playoffs and the league did not enforce it. If this by-law was going to be enforced this year the league should have made it clear that was the case (it was not). You cannot point the finger at GDYFC they were only operating under the precedent set by the league last year. Once you knowingly fail to enforce a by-law, that by-law is now invalid. If GD knew that they were not going to be playing to make the regional bracket bracket, their level of commitment and hard work would have been NO different, but not knowing has now made them feel like all their hard work is being cast aside because they (don’t be fooled, the kids feel like they did something wrong) don’t have cheerleaders.

  12. The real story IV says:

    Groton/Dunstable was given a waiver last year for not having any cheer teams with the condition that they would have at least one team for the 2010 season. Evidently Groton/Dunstable’s board decided they would roll the dice with fate and see they could push the envelope.

    As stated by Tulip

    There are girls out there that do not play soccer or track that DO want to cheer.

    Why are these girls left without cheer when they want to? The team only needs to have 4 girls on it. I think it is a travesty that these girls are not being offered what by name (Groton/Dunstable Football and Cheerleading) was formed for.

    Again why did the GD board not inform you before this, I can’t answer you have to ask them yourself.

  13. Mr Howes, just be honest says:

    Bylaws are there for a reason, without the “laws” there would be no sports even the pros have them. Does Groton/Dunstable have a board of directors? Do any of them know how to read? Why are they all shocked that this would happen? I know for a fact that parents have stepped up to coach a cheer squad and Mr. Howes has turned them away stating that “he” did not have a need for them. It was Mr. Howes who insisted that his parents did not want to go to Regional’s that is the whole reason we now, this year have a local championship. Mr. Howes organization according to him did “NOT” want to go to Florida, or maybe that was just Mr. Howes speaking for all those now very angry parents. My suggestion would be to return to your monthly board meetings and ask Mr. Howes why he as the president did NOTHING, when he was told that this would happen if there were no cheer squads? Mr. Howes was given a warning; did he relay that message to his board or his parents? Before you judge AYF maybe all the facts should have been put on the table and shame on Channel 4 for not doing their homework. Mr. Howes did nothing because he did not have any faith in his players, way to go president.

    1. 55 says:

      Dude your wrong mr howes is a grate guy and he would let people cheer if he could because he been my couch from my first year until last year and he had a choice he would have cheerleaders but he couldent so get your story stight befor you comment back

  14. Tell the Truth says:

    Mr Howes also in past CM meetings stated that the parents are not interested in going to the national because of the cost associated with the trip. He was very much in favor of only having local competitions and stopping there. He needs to look in the mirror and realize he has caused this mess, I feel bad for both the players and parents that are not aware of the decisions that your president made for GDYFC

  15. Try this says:

    Maybe you should contact Coach Brazil at the High School and borrow her cheer squad?

    1. Cowards says:

      I love these blogs…people who have no idea what they are talking about can feel important and courageous simply by hitting the send button. It’s sad really, to have to run around spewing false information for your own self satisfaction.

  16. tom says:

    what’s the big deal here so they don’t cheerleader’s so what weather they have them or not if they make it that far they should be allowed to go! i went to school there i’ll go cheer for them if it get’s them down there!

  17. Carrie says:

    since when is foot ball all about cheerleaders? Especially when it comes to children! These kids have worked hard and deserve to be there just like the rest of the teams. It shouldn’t be held against the kids that there are no cheerleaders!!
    Good work boys! This is a crummy situation for you to be in after all the hard work you put in!

  18. Old Coach says:

    Groton Dunstable 6th grade team and 8th grade team both host playoff games today!!

    Every kid wants to say then went to Florida to play for the National Championship. It reflects well on an organization when their teams do well, but it can kill them financially to send a fooball team (or Cheerleading team) to Nationals. Not only is this a Volunteer issue, but a financial one. It is much easier for a Cheerleading team to advance to Nationals.

    Support your local football and cheering programs! How many of you actually volunteer? If you had more volunteers, this would be a non-issue.

    VOLUNTEER! Help your team find sponsors! Organize your own fundraisers for them! Stop complaining and do something constr

  19. #93 says:

    I can’t wait until we win the patriot bowl and shove it down the league’s face. we are the best team in the league and can beat anyone undoubtedly, and they need to know we don’t want or need stupid little cheerleaders who just are flat out annoying!

    1. The other #93 says:

      What happened when you played Leominster? Didn’t look like a potential New England champion that day….

  20. Jen says:

    As a parent who sat through all of the games this season, I was grateful every single time that we did not have cheerleaders. They are a distraction to the football game. I love to watch gymnastic and dance competitions, but not while I’m trying to follow my son’s football game. And frankly, seeing young girls in short skirts swiveling their hips to cheer on “the boys” turns my stomach. And I haven’t heard of any girl’s sports teams that are required to have teams of cheering boys. These boys worked hard and deserve to play!

  21. Don't be hating the cheerleaders says:

    Athletes lift weights.

    Cheerleaders lift athletes.

    Most cheerleaders are in better shape than the donut-fed football fatties. Just sayin’.

  22. Hey Jen says:

    It’s football AND cheer…get it? Cheerleaders put in as many hours if not more working on their choreography, their stunts, and their cheers. Cheerleading competition are just as stressful and just as physically demanding as a foorball game. The girls are only there to cheer on the boys and to get the crowd more into the game. Why must you be so abrasive about it? Is it jealousty because no one would want to see your fat ass in a skirt? Do the right thing and cheer on the cheerleaders as well as the football players

  23. David Howes says:

    David Howes is an idiot.

    He thinks rules don’t apply to him. He needs to go!

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