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Team Disqualified from Championship for Having One Girl Player

Jessica Thomas-Johns/Twitter

The Short of It

The Charlottesville Cavaliers may have won five games in the National Travel Basketball Association's (NTBA) national championship tournament, but that didn't stop officials from disqualifying the team just before finals for allowing a female player to take the court.

The Lowdown

Ten-year-old Kymora Johnson joined her local basketball team three years ago. Although she's played in hundreds of games and helped her team make it into the NTBA national championship tournament, the Virginia-based team has recently been sidelined. Apparently, new rules make it illegal for a girl to be on the boys' team, which led to the team being disqualified during the finals.

NTBA's regulations do allow female players on boys' teams with pre-approval from the organization. However, mixed-gender teams aren't allowed at the national championship tournament since there are divisions for both boy and girl teams.

NTBA president John Whitley says the rule is new. Jessica Thomas-Johnson, Kymora's mother, says she was never informed of the rule changes.

"Even if it was buried in the rules and we missed it, they accepted her at check-in with her spiral curly hair [worn] down, hot pink nail polish, birth certificate, and DMV-issued ID," Thomas-Johnson told Yahoo Parenting.

The team attended the finals on Sunday, while wearing pink uniforms as a form of silent protest against the situation.

"This was a very clear-cut situation. The head coach was informed at team check-in that girls are not allowed to play on boys' teams for our national championship, as we offer the girls a national championship as well," a representative from the NTBA told Yahoo Parenting. "Unfortunately, the coach chose to play this girl anyway; and therefore, by our rules and policies, the team was dismissed from the tournament because he played with an ineligible player."

The Upshot

This mess seems like it could have been cleared up with better communication among the NTBA, coach and Kymora's family. Since the little girl had been allowed to play on the team since she was 6 years old and helped her team climb the ranks to make it to the national championship tournament, she should be allowed to follow through with the final games. Couldn't children with long-term involvement on the team be grandfathered into the brand new policy for such a special tournament? I don't think she should have to join an all-girls team and leave the teammates and friends she's been with for three years in order to meet her dream of playing in the national tournament.

If you want to show your support for Kymora and her team, you can use the hashtag #EqualityForKymora.

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