Elijah Earnheart, a 6-foot tall, 300-pound seventh grader out of Mesquite, Texas, has been banned from playing Pee Wee football because of his size, Dallas-based Fox News affiliate KDFW-TV reports.Earnheart had been practicing with the Mesquite Vikings, a Mesquite Pee Wee Football Association team, for three weeks. During a Sunday pre-season weigh-in, however, the pre-teen was told he was too big to put on a Pee Wee League uniform and that he must play for the regular school league. League rules require that a player be less than 135 pounds.
His size has not prevented him from playing in the past and playing for the regular school league where he’ll be competing with kids with more experience is not a step he is ready to take on right now.
“I don’t want to play in school right now because it’s people that’s had experience and I want to get some experience first and then start playing,” he said. “I just want to play because my teammates are my friends. I know them. I don’t want to go play for somebody else I don’t know.”
Earnheart’s coach at the Mesquite Vikings says he is protesting the decision:
“If they’re over 135 they have to wear a symbol on their helmet, which is the X. So if they’re an X-man they have to play offensive line, defensive line only,” he said.
Elijah’s mother, Cindy Earnheart, also plans to protest with painted signs and shirts that say, “Let Elijah Play.”
“For him to come home and just cry and go to his room and say, ‘I give up.’ I’m not going to let him give up. This is his dream. This is what he wants to do. And I’m going to make it happen,” she said.
But Mesquite Pee Wee Football Association President Ronnie Henderson said rules are rules. He said several other players were barred Sunday night for the same reason and the X-man exemption Wright referred to only applies to elementary school players.
“The coach over there should have known this. He’s been told this. He’s been to our meetings. He knows this. I don’t know where the misunderstanding was. We hate it. I don’t like it for the kid or the parents,” he said.