Concerns Arise In Whitman Community Over Weight Limits In Youth Football

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WHITMAN, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — A community of football players and their families in Whitman are speaking out against the weight restrictions of the Old Colony Youth Football League, something they say is keeping a number of kids off the field.

At the time of posting, 70 parents have signed a petition created by Whitman mother Jenni Brennan to uplift the "unsafe" weight limits in place at the nearly 60-year-old South Shore league. She tells WBZ's Kim Tunnicliffe that the rules are creating unhealthy habits both physically and mentally in the kids, an issue that deserves an emergency meeting with league officials.

"I've heard story after story about parents who were aware their kids were making themselves throw up before weigh-ins. If there is true concern this is for keeping the smaller kids safe— why is there no minimum?" Brennan said.

According to the weigh-in rules of the OCYFL, players that do not meet the end of season weight will still be allowed to remain on the official roster, but will not be permitted to play on a day where they don't make gameday weight. As it stands, Midget level players (aged under 14-years-old) are allowed to have a maximum weight of 170 pounds at the beginning of the season.

For Pee Wee players (aged under twelve-years-old), the limit is 135 pounds at the start weigh-in. Mite players (aged seven to ten-years-old) will have to be at or under 110 pounds by the season's start. By the end of the season, the maximum weight allowed gradually increases to around ten pounds greater than the start weigh-in.

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OCYFL Director Gary Smith said that as per protocol, he's reached out to each and every involved town representative to see if they want to sponsor a bylaw change— but found there were no takers. According to Smith, for every parent who wants weight limits raised, there's just as many who say they'll pull their smaller kids from the league if that happens.

Regardless Brennan's 13-year-old son Jacob has lost around 30 pounds for this season alone just so he can be eligible to play.

"It's brutal— because he's obsessed with his food intake, so we're obsessed with it because we have to make sure he's eating enough. It's a battle on game day with him to try to get him to eat something before a game," Brennan said.

Parents against the weight restrictions argue that the rules are unsafe for larger kids and could lead to the development of eating disorders and depression down the line.

WBZ's Kim Tunnicliffe (@KimWBZ) reports.

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