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.

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  • 1989

    Good on her team for standing by her side. If the child is good enough skills wise, there is no reason she shouldn’t play.

  • Deebo

    “archaic rule”?

    So single-gender sports teams are archaic? This is a silly story.

    But I will say that, truthfully, when kids are that young I don’t think it much matters if boys and girls play on teams together, especially if there is not an alternative team for girls or not enough girls to field their own team.

    But I guess the organizers just want to stop it now because when she grows up and wants to keep playing on boys teams – it won’t happen.

  • Wanda

    I think that there may be a size and strength concern here. Even in the 4th grade, you begin to see the emerging size and strength differences in between the boys and the girls. The bigger boys who play basketball and football are quite strong for their age.

    My daughter played youth basketball at that age and there is NO WAY I would have allowed her to play with the boys.

  • Anthony

    Unless she puts on enough muscle to make her suspect of doping, she won’t get anywhere near the NBA. I suspect she is young enough that playing with boys will be no issue, but at puberty things will change quickly.