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.