Youth teams know the surest way to make SportsCenter is to let a child with cancer (also: autism, Down syndrome) play. Another surefire way to make the news: cut a kid from the team after his inspiring recovery from cancer.
Doctors discovered a brain tumor in Conor Smith in 2007, and just to make this story as sad as possible, they found Leukemia too. That ended his youth basketball season, though he played through his chemotherapy treatments in 2008.
When 2009 tryouts came around last month, Conor couldn't participate because his legs were in casts related to his chemo treatment. So he was cut from the "C" team, the lowest level of the Eagan (Minn.) Traveling Basketball association.
Could there be an exception, I guess there could have been but we try to keep everything according to our policies as best we can," said Beth Koenig, who co-directs the basketball association with her husband Gregg.
OK, here's the part where we use bullet points to hammer home just how dick this move was:
•54 boys were competing for 50 spots. Conor was one of only 4 boys cut. Ooh.
•The league offered to judge Conor based on his performance last season; a season he played while undergoing chemo. Ouch.
•For no apparent reason, they also let Conor's dad go from being a team coach. A volunteer coach. Jesus.
But rules are rules, and god forbid anyone make an exception that could impugn the very integrity of Eagan Traveling Basketball.