Young players make sacrifices to play the game

Published 3:10 pm Monday, September 7, 2009

“It’s official. He made it. Seven pounds in one week!”

My friend texted me this exciting news about her son’s city league football weigh-in. And her son didn’t gain 7 pounds –– he lost seven pounds.

Actually, my friend’s son, Riverchase Middle School sixth-grader Logan Burnett lost 15 pounds total.

Our high school coaches are hoping for big, burly Pelham Panthers. So, why are kids losing weight for city league football?

City of Pelham Parks and Recreation Director Billy Crandall said an imposed weight limit puts some players with children they don’t know.

“The Jefferson/Shelby Youth Football League determines the weight classes. The league’s position is that they would lose players without a weight limit because parents fear that larger children might hurt smaller players,” Crandall said.

First graders are the 80-pound team and with each grade the weight increases by 10–15 pounds. Sixth graders are the 130-pound team –– the oldest and largest players. If players exceed the weight limits, they may play up with the next team. Only in sixth grade may a child exceed the weight limit. If a sixth-grader weighs more than 130, but less than 150, he may play with his age group, but he must play line.

Crandall knows the struggles players go through to drop weight. His own son didn’t meet the weight limit when he played. Sam Crandall played with the older kids for his first three years. Later, he wanted to play with his classmates, so he worked to drop his weight.

“I hated to see Sam put himself through the ordeal of existing on green beans and chicken, but he loved football,” Crandell said.

While the necessity of this weight loss may be something the league needs to reconsider, those kids who have lost weight to play the game they love learn that achieving their goals requires discipline and hard work.

“Logan woke early during the first two weeks of school and ran for 30 minutes,” Rebecca Burnett said. “I was impressed that he set a goal, stuck to the goal in the midst of its difficulty and accomplished his goal.”

Perhaps discovering the ability to change ourselves and attain our goals lies within us is worth a measure of sacrifice.

Columnist Connie Nolen can be reached by e–mail at