Paul Jacob

But what about hurt feelings from failing to make the weight classification? Or what might kids do in order to make the team? We are supposed to be very concerned.

"Higher rates of childhood obesity are making it difficult for kids to qualify for teams," Harris writes, "and are prompting them to try what can be unhealthy and dangerous weight-loss regimens."

You'd think some enterprising lawyer would have already sniffed out this appetizing legal smorgasbord, but no lawsuits yet. For now we'll have to settle for a journalistic brouhaha.

Of course, the Prince George's County Boys & Girls Club football league is not the only football league to choose from. There are a number of such leagues. Some classify players by both age and weight, some just by age. Pop Warner football leagues have less stringent weight standards. The Mid-Atlantic Unlimited Youth Football League uses "suggested" minimum weights, not maximums.

Unsurprisingly, parents do avail themselves of those alternatives. But still, leagues that practice and play farther away add to driving time ? and there is still no government program to deal with that problem.

So some kids are still turned away because they don't make the weight. And thus, the kids suffer. Harris provided some examples of what has happened to youngsters when they've clashed with the standards, failing to meet the weight standard to play on the team they wanted to play on.

"It crushed him," said Charles Rivers of his son Charlie, who failed by one pound to make the team that went to the Metropolitan Area Youth Super Bowl Tournament.

Now, Charlie has sort of rebounded. As folks are known to do. He's the star running back for Largo High School's Lions. But the horrible life forced on star running back Rivers, now reportedly hounded by major college scouts, isn't the only damage caused by these weight classifications.

Andrew Dillon's struggle is another. He couldn't play on the team close to home unless he lost some weight. Well, his Mom put it bluntly: "We cut out all junk food and snacking and sodas." Andrew ended up losing the weight and making the team.

Said Andrew: "I was happy. I was finally on the team."

So, there you have it: Requiring kids to meet standards causes very real trauma. Trauma that may indeed alter these kids forever.

Life is full of pain and failure. And yet, some silly people go on living nonetheless, facing challenges, handling disappointment, exceeding expectations, only to find success and happiness. Maybe there is a lesson here, somewhere . . . if only our village can find it.


Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.