People across the country are rallying around a 12-year-old New Jersey boy who quit his football team after the coach refused to let him wear pink football gloves to support his mother, who is battling breast cancer.
The boy, Julian Connerton of Egg Harbor, N.J., plays for the Egg Harbor City Crusaders, a youth league. As the team was getting ready Saturday night to play the Ocean City Junior Raiders, the coach, Paul Burgan, told Julian he couldn’t play while wearing the gloves, the Press of Atlantic City reported.
“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,” Louis Barrios, a member of the Crusaders Youth Athletic League Association’s board of directors, told the newspaper, adding that the team is allowed to wear pink in October, which is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Julian’s family has said the coach was aware of the boy’s mother’s health problems. The woman recently had a double mastectomy.
A message addressing the issue was posted on the team’s Facebook page on Sunday.
“The Exec Board of the Crusaders Organization is aware of the unfortunate miscommunication in OC. The board and coaches have the utmost respect for FAMILY. We are gathering facts, and are very confident that this misunderstanding will be resolved,” the message read.
Another message followed. The latest one, posted on Tuesday evening, said the situation had “been resolved.”
“We are looking forward to Julian returning to practice tomorrow. All are looking forward to Julian representing The Crusaders as a breast cancer awareness spokesperson. All are pleased the situation has been resolved,” the post read.
The incident has produced a public outcry. Some people called for Burgan to be fired or face sensitivity training. Others demanded Julian receive an apology, while others said they believed the incident stemmed from a misunderstanding and had been blown out of proportion.
“Power to you for putting your MOM first, you really showed how much you love and care for her. Too bad the coach couldn’t think like you and put his ruling aside. You did it for a reason, not because you felt like being funny. Pink is for breast cancer, does he know that?” one poster wrote.
But another poster took the boy to task, saying he shouldn’t expect to be able to buck the system and wear whatever he wanted during team play. “That is not respect he says he has for his coach or any adult,” the poster wrote.
Several people have pointed out that some players in the NFL wear pink in October.
Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers in the United States. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 210,203 women in the United States were diagnosed with the disease in 2008. There were 40,589 deaths from breast cancer that year.