ALBUQUERQUE, NM (CBS) — The star of a fourth-grade basketball team in Albuquerque, N.M. is being barred from participating in a major tournament because she’s a girl.
Ten-year-old Jaelyn Bates plays on a boy’s team and organizers of New Mexico’s statewide Salsa Slam have told her coach it’s either her, or her team — because the rules state only boys can play on boys’ teams.
“The girls didn’t really give me a competition,” said Bates, who has always played with boys.
Her dream is to become an NBA star, she said.
Bates has never had a problem playing on boys’ teams in the past, and tournament organizers admit the rules have not been enforced until now.
Still, tournament organizers said the team won’t be able to play if Jaelyn suits up.
They argue if officials can’t stop a fourth grade girl from playing on a boys’ team, it would be too difficult to prevent boys playing on girls’ teams.
Her coach, Basketball Academy’s Kevin Frey, along with her parents, are fighting the decision.
“She’s worked hard to get where she’s at and I don’t think it’s fair for someone else to hold her down,” said Frey.
An attorney is helping the family fight to let Bates play, and is planning to file an injunction later this week.
The same organization banning Bates from the tournament allowed her to play with her boys team during a tournament in November.