ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – It has become a given in America that if a girl is good enough to play in a boys league, it is allowed.
Jaelyn Bates is good enough and then some.
Now, the fourth grader barred from playing with her team in a huge boys’ tournament has taken legal action, calling it a civil rights violation.
“She has the love of the game inside… I mean it’s hard to explain,” said Jaelyn’s father, Barry Bates.
The love of the game and a lot of skill, but that is not enough to convince the New Mexico Select Youth Sports Club that this tiny 10-year-old with a big game can play in its upcoming tournament with her team because Jaelyn plays with boys against boys.
“The girls didn’t really give me a competition,” Jaelyn said.
New Mexico Select is now enforcing its rule that girls and boys can’t play together even though Jaelyn’s team has competed in the group’s tournaments before.
New Mexico Select has denied KRQE’s requests for an interview.
Instead, in a statement Friday it said, “We understand the frustrations that sticking to these requirements may bring to some, but our priority is to keep our young athletes and our volunteers who help with the tournament safe, and to provide a competitive forum for all young athletes.”
Attorney Daymon Ely does not see it that way.
“They are excluding this girl because she is a great basketball player and that’s just wrong,” Ely said.
He filed an injunction Friday asking a judge to let Jaelyn and her club’s teams play in the tournament in two weeks.
The petition says, “A club is standing up to the discriminatory practices of an organization. All these boys, 3rd graders, 4th graders and 5th graders, have been banned from the tournament because they are standing up for a fellow teammate, a girl.”
“We are going to court to see if court will agree with us and allow this girl to play and the three teams backing her to play,” Ely said.
There has been a lot of national buzz around this story since it first aired on KRQE News 13 last week.
On Friday, KRQE News 13 got word of a Let Jaelyn Play petition in the works that could include some big NBA and Hollywood names.