Jaelyn Bates is only in the 4th grade, but she has huge hope dreams and hopes to play in the NBA. But the Southwest Salsa Slam, a popular basketball tournament in New Mexico, has told her she can’t participate in the tournament because she’s a girl.
“Everyone is in an uproar over this because if you go on basketball skills only, she is one of the best in the state,” said her father Barry Bates.”It’s to set a standard just because there are girls out there, if they can play, they should be allowed to play.”
In an email, organizers explained the American Athletic Union (AAU) doesn’t allow both boys and girls to play in the same game, and stated:
“Our priority is to keep our young athletes and our volunteers who help with the tournament safe, and to provide a competitive forum for all young athletes”.
But that’s not stopping the Bates family. Their attorney hopes that they can get the archaic rule changed, and allow girls to play on boys teams and compete in certain tournaments.
Jaelyn’s teammates are standing behind her. If she doesn’t play, they won’t play.
The coach, Kevin Frey, said it was a team decision not to play in the tournament. “They didn’t feel good and they don’t want to play without her,” he said.
That meant the world to Jaelyn. “It makes me feel happy and it makes me feel like I’m a part of the team,” she said.
“She’s a leader, a floor general, the way she plays she demands that respect,” said her coach Kevin Frey.
Bates and her team will travel to Phoenix to play their next game against one of the top boys teams in the country.