2013-09-11 / Sports

To play or not to play?

Commission debates 6-year-old’s eligibility
By Jim McConnell

As players and coaches across the county prepared last week for the start of the Chesterfield Quarterback League’s 2013 season, one local boy’s football future remained in limbo.

Without special permission from the Ettrick Youth Sports Association, Justin Beavers’ 6-year-old son won’t be able to play flag football this fall.

The Beavers family lives in the Ettrick Elementary School district. Justin Beavers and his wife received a waiver for both of their children to attend O.B. Gates Elementary because it’s located much closer to their afterschool day care.

The Beavers also sought a waiver for their son to play football for Gates because both parents work full-time and they say it’s all but impossible for them to get him to practices on time in Ettrick.

According to Justin Beavers, that request was denied by Stacey Hayes, chair of the Ettrick Youth Sports Association.

Beavers spoke at last week’s meeting of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission, asking members to intercede on his son’s behalf and convince Hayes to change his mind.

“He’s basically saying, ‘You play for us or you don’t play at all,’” Beavers said. “I don’t know if it’s a personal vendetta or not, but there shouldn’t be a way for one person to determine whether a child is allowed to play football.”

Hayes replied to a request for comment via email with a statement that read: “All rules are being followed.”

Chesterfield Quarterback League regulations allow associations the flexibility to relinquish their rights to players in two ways:

• Under a waiver, the player remains with his new association throughout his six years of eligibility.

• Any association with at least 18 players in a given age division is also permitted to loan a player to a different association for one season.

But the league’s current and former commissioners acknowledged that Hayes was acting within the scope of the rules when he denied Beavers’ waiver request.

Robert Pugh, the league’s current commissioner, noted that he can “ask nicely,” but ultimately has no authority to force Hayes (or any other voting representative) to grant a waiver.

Former Commissioner Mike Hairfield, now one of the Midlothian District’s two representatives on the Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission, said the only way to alter the rules to force such waivers is to change the league’s bylaws.

Such a change would require a vote of 75 percent of the league’s associations, Hairfield noted, and it wouldn’t take effect until next year at the earliest.

That’s not nearly soon enough to satisfy one member of the commission, who expressed disgust that a 6-year-old is being barred from playing football because of a technicality.

“We’re talking about children – this is not professional football!” said Robert Forman, a Bermuda District representative.

Matoaca District representative Raymond Marsh, who said he’s spoken to Matoaca Supervisor Steve Elswick about the situation, said he planned to meet with Hayes last week and seek a compromise satisfactory to both sides.

While addressing Beavers, parks advisory commission chair Ron Maxey expressed hope that cooler heads would eventually prevail.

“I’d hate to see your son not be able to play football because adults can’t get along,” he said.

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