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High School Football Player With Down Syndrome Kicked Off Team Over Age Regulations

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Brett Bowden filled a special place in the hearts of the students and their families at Hobbton High School in North Carolina. As an honorary member of the football team, Bowden, who has Down Syndrome, would suit up and cheer during every varsity game and even run a touchdown play after each game was over. Essentially, Bowden was everyone’s favorite player, providing inspiration and hope to fans, his teammates, and his family who always came to watch.

Sadly, all of Bowden’s joy was taken away in August when he and his family learned that he would no longer be allowed to partake in the high school football games. According to the North Carolina High School Athletic Association, Bowden is now too old to play since he recently turned 19. The NCHSAA issued a statement that it understands the Hobbton community’s disappointment over the rule, but that it can do nothing to change the high school age regulations. The Hobbton High School football coach also stated that Brett will still be allowed to cheer from the sidelines and wear his jersey, but that he would no longer be allowed to wear his full football uniform since the rules state that only eligible students are allowed to dress in the full uniform on game days. Bowden’s mother is saddened, as she says that dressing in the full uniform is one of Brett’s favorite parts of each game.

Nevertheless, Brett’s younger sister, Taylor, isn’t taking the news lightly. She started a Facebook page called "Let Brett Bowden Play" and has gained a slew of fans since after posting pictures and an explanation of why it means so much to Brett, the Bowden family, and the Hobbton community that he get to play and dress in full uniform. In fact, one of Bowden’s teammates says that Brett is "an inspiration" and that he’s driven to play as hard as possible to do Bowden proud during each game. For now it is up a state organization which will have to decide whether bending the rules for Brett is worthwhile.