An Arizona father is seeking an apology from a youth football league that kicked his son off of the team after his dad questioned whether "ringers" were being added to the team for the playoffs.
"I asked for the coach to apologize to my son," Scott Kelly told ABC News. "I think he was hurt by that. He is only 9, but he was smart enough kid to realize what was happening."
Kelly's son, Jacob, joined the Rams, a competitive tackling football team, for the first time this year. Kelly claimed his son is a "smaller guy" who got a lot of playing time at a variety of positions. The team was undefeated heading into the playoffs, but suddenly new players joined the team and his son got benched.
Kelly then posted a Facebook status that questioned the ethics of the league, calling the new players "ringers." The following day, Kelly received an e-mail from the president of the league kicking his son off of the team.
James Vieth, president of the Tackle Football League of the National Youth Sports in Southeast Valley Phoenix, told ABC News that the "ringers" Kelly refers to are fully authorized players. He says as long as they paid the registration fee and signed up before the Oct. 24 deadline, the players are allowed on the team.
"The kids were registered to play. Am I supposed to tell the parents 'No, you can't let the kids play?'" Vieth told ABC News. "I'm more than happy to sit in on resolution, but right now he and coach don't want to take time to talk and the child is getting hurt because of that."
Kelly said he had to tell his son he had been kicked off the team.
"He welled up and cried a little bit and said 'Hey dad thank you for doing the right thing and sticking up for me," Kelly said.
Vieth said this is the first time this rule has been put into question. And claimed other parents on the team welcomed the new players.
"Too many people sign up and don't read the rules," Vieth said. "If he's unhappy with ethics of the coach, finish out season and go find a new team to play on."
Kelly said it's not about the rules, it's a question of right and wrong.
"Technically is there a rule? Yes. But honestly is that the proper message to show to a 9-year-old?" Kelly said. "I assumed that if kids worked hard all season and went undefeated and unscored on, that same team and those same players should get the opportunity to get adequate playing time in the playoffs."
Kelly said he does not believe his son will be welcomed back on the team. As a result, Jacob is now the starting point guard on his school's basketball team.
Kelly said he does not plan to pursue legal action. The president of the football league says there are no plans to get rid of the rule.
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