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Thursday, May 24, 2018

Youth football player quits team after coach won’t let him wear pink gloves to support mother with breast cancer

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We have heard of strict uniform policies regarding colors and brands at the NFL level, but what about youth football? If a 12-year-old’s mother is battling breast cancer and he wants to wear pink gloves to support her cause, would anyone stand in his way? Unfortunately, it appears they would.

According to the Press of Atlantic City, Julian Connerton strapped on his pink gloves before his Egg Harbor City Crusaders were set to take on the Ocean City Junior Raiders on Saturday night, but was told he could not play if he wore them. That led to Julian’s decision to quit the team. Word of the incident has circulated around various social media sites, and Connerton’s aunt Sonia Cruz is hopeful the coach will come to his senses.

“The family is optimistic that the coach will apologize and that Julian will rejoin the team,” Cruz said.

Cruz also noted that the team invited Julian to participate in team pictures on Wednesday, and that the EHC Crusaders Facebook page said the team was looking forward to welcoming him back. One member of the Crusaders Youth Athletic League Association, Louis Barrios, said head coach Paul Burgan was unaware of Connerton’s reason for wanting to wear the pink gloves.

“It was strictly a uniform situation,” Barrios said. “No one knew that there was a personal reason why the kid wanted to wear the gloves … The game was ready to begin in minutes, and it was a communication issue. There was a storm. It was chaotic.”

Julian’s mother, Myra Cruz-Connerton, said that her son is a quiet boy but that everyone has been informed of her diagnosis. She does not believe Burgan was unaware of why Julian wanted to wear the gloves.

“(Julian’s) coach did know why he was wearing those gloves and why he wanted to wear them,” she said. “They’ve reached out to us. They told us they want Julian to come back, they really want him to come back to play. We told them that’s Julian’s decision.”

Julian’s friends supposedly told him later that night that they supported his decision and that Burgan was “bad-mouthing” him in front of the team. Cruz-Connerton said that she supports her son’s decision as well and that her and her husband would like to see Burgan suspended for the season.

If the coach knew why the 12-year-old wanted to wear the gloves, he deserves to be disciplined. Even if there was some sort of uniform rule that doesn’t allow it — which would be idiotic to begin with — nobody would have said anything. It’s one thing for NFL players to be told they can’t wear certain items because of licensing issues, but this is a kid whose mother has breast cancer. If he wants to raise awareness for her during a youth football game, he should be given nothing but support. Unfortunately, this is not the first time young players have been punished for trying to do the right thing.

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