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Age rule ends special athlete's football career

One special high school athlete's true love is being taken away from him. Brett Bowden will no longer be able to play football because of his age, and no exception is going to be made despite his incredible story.

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees.



Most of the comments I have seen up here disgust me. Even better the ignorant people posting them disgust me. If you would actually pay attention to the story you would know that this is not about Brett playing in the game. Brett does not play in the games. Brett leads his team on the field,stands on the sideline to cheer on his team and after the game the team or teams let Brett run a play while they try to tackle him. Brett makes his touchdown and that's it. This entire rally is for Brett to be able to wear his FULL uniform. The NCHSAA says he can wear his jersey and pants just no pads and his helmet. This makes Brett think he has done something wron to deserve this which is compltely unfair. To the parents of children who are disabled like Brett is,you should be ashamed of yourselves! If this were your child you would be the ones filing lawsuits and everything imaginable. Nobody wants a dime from this,only what is fair. It IS NOT Brett's fault that the NC school system did not send him through like the rest of his classmates. Brett HAS NOT failed a grade or even been held back. If he HAS to be in school until he is 21 then why in the world can't he "play" football? I hope you all never have anything bad happen to your children to break their spirit like this. If it does happen remember your own words. May God bless your children and all of you. Thank you Brett SUPPORTERS,without people like all of you with compassion ,this world would be a much worse place.

Bad parents

Is it bad that this actually makes me angry at the parents?
As someone who works one on one with special needs children, I think it's wrong hat they're using his down-syndrome as an excuse to let him continue playing. Why not enroll him in a program outside of school?
Also, I'm shocked that he doesn't know that he has down-syndrome- don't they know that it's incredibly damaging to keep that from a person? I've worked with a few kids with downs and most of them knew, and because they knew they wouldn't ask why they were different- they would accept and do their best to fit in with the others- not allow their parents to bend rules for them. To me it's just as ridiculous as hiding someone from a physical disability.

You're off your rocker and

You're off your rocker and way out of line... He's a student of the school. The school has programs. Why should he be forced to go somewhere else??? You probably think drinking fountains should still be segregated, don't you?

Bowden Child and the Football Team

Everything is all well and good since the school allowed this boy to be on the team but now he is over the age to play and so must move on. One thing that concerns me. Just let the boy play and then let him get hurt and see how fast that woman lawyers up and files suit against the coaches, the teachers, the principal, the school district, the Superintendant and the North Carolina State High School Association and any one else who has a part in this boy continuing to suit up after he is beyond the age for anyone to participate!!!!!

What a complete load of

What a complete load of bull_____! The lead-in is designed to lead readers to believe that there is a connection between the young man's developmental challenges and the decision to preclude him from being a participant on the football team. If there's an exception for this young man, where do we draw the line? As inspirational as his story may be, maybe it's time for his mother to start introducing him to other avenues to find self-worth other than through sham participation in a high school football program. Typical of the things that make thinking people have so little regard for the media. Distort the facts to suggest a tearful scenario when the cold hard facts are that the young man has simply exceeded the age limit to be even a token part of the football program.

My grandfather was pretty inspirational for his football team in high school, and he has dementia. I think it is so wrong that the High School Athletic Association will not allow him to be a part of the local high school football program. He was an active booster of the program throughout his life, how dare they deny him the right to be a part of the program? Damn it; he has dementia.

Brett Bowden

Pal, You don't have a clue. To compare your grandfather to a young man who has a disability and gets happiness from doing what he is doing, to an old man who's life has been lived, you are heartless and
have no compassion. Bet you have never broken a rule or a law right. It is people like you who are uncaring that is making this world what it is today. If your so against this kid playing and should be brought into the real world, then if your grandfather has dementia, and is being cared for using medcare medicade then that is a waste of money and he should be put to sleep because he is a burden on society right. He is just taking up space and being a burden on the
health care system.

His point was that Brett's

His point was that Brett's downsyndrome has nothing to do with him not being able to play football. Before you call someone with a logical, realistic, point of view heartless, why don't you wake up and get your head out of your care bear ass. Misleading readers into thinking he can't play because of his downsyndrome is wrong; then you lash out at others? What kind of person are you then? An ignorant fool.

OK! The fact that he has

OK! The fact that he has down syndrome has nothing to do with him not being able to play! Yes he has it, but he NCHSAA say he is to old! AGE is the factor here not that he has down syndrome! He will not wonder what he's done wrong, you need explain to him that his age is whats stopping him! Its only one of many challenges he will receive as an adult.

RE:the fact he has

Its not about a challenge because he is standing up for what he belives ,that makes him more of an adult then most of them making the rules .. its the fact that he is still a student and should be a full part of the team and anyone that thinks different has a challenge of their own (growing up)


There are exceptions to all rules. This is one of them.

Student with Downs Syndrome playing football

I have a granddaughter with autism, age 15 who would love to be a cheerleader now that she is entering high school. There should be allowances for special needs kids in this country. Especially when 1 in 50 births in this country produces a child with autism!!

Special needs cheerleader

Come on mom, does she really want to be a cheerleader or is just about maybe some money? People like your daughter have more special rules created for them than God's got apples. But give us a break. Just because she is "special" doesn't mean anything she wants should be automatic. Where do you draw the line saying one daughter is more important than another persons? Two girls competing for the same spot, one is "special" and one is not. Why should the "special" girl automatically get the spot over the not "special" girl. Why?


Guest, your post makes you sound like you may be "special" or just an idiot. You couldn't even comprehend that it was the girls grandmother, not her mom that posted.

In my previous comment I

In my previous comment I used the word "intelligent" and to a degree I feel that Brett is intelligent. He has played football in high school and is carrying on with friends in social daily activities that do require a higher degree of cognizance than many Downs Syndrome individuals are capable of. I admire his "ability" and "capability" to adapt and understand. I wish him luck and I also hope that he stays with the team as a staff member or assistant.

Brett Bowden

People please stop I am an advocate for children with disabilities and this kind of thing does nothing but confuse the issue. It is not about the poor guy who has down syndrome. Unfortunately he has a disability and how is it fair to say that we will make an exception for one person and not everyone that wants to play football. I have played organized football from pop warner through college and it was an honor to win a spot on every team I played for. I think the mistake came when he was mislead that he was a player on the field. There are many things he can be doing to be a part of the team and a valuable part of the team inspirationally that he and his family could be proud of. At what point will it stop is he going to be a 35 year old man acting like a high school football player. This kind of thing does help him to cope with the challenges he has to face.

But he's not a 35 year old

But he's not a 35 year old man. He's a high school senior. I would also guess that he is a bigger part of the team than you realize and this is not about him being mislead that he was a player on the team. This is about him continuing to be that same player on the team for his senior year. His disability only comes in that it might be the reason he is a 19 year old senior instead of an 18 year old senior.

Not as bad

I feel sory for him, but i guess its the rules :/. Could be worse if he was at Albuquerque Public Schools.

Brett Bowden

let Brett play!special needs kids can attend school till 21,he should have the right to participate in any activities the school has to offer.As another commented, Go brett,pave the way so kids that follow may have the same opportunity.

This seems no different than

This seems no different than when children "Age" out of Foster care at age 18. We have taken some of these kids in our home after the Foster parents give them the boot because no more checks are coming from the County. Not fair at all, these are special needs folks as well but must be helped or they will more than likely flounder in society. Best of luck fighting the "System"

Some of the blame can be

Some of the blame can be directed at the parents. They should have prepped the lad some time before this all went into effect. But you have to feel bad for him still.

WTF?? Is it not bad enough

WTF?? Is it not bad enough that with all this equality crap they let retarded people and cripples play in sports that they once would have been barred (rightly so for everyone's safety) from right at the get go, but now we are expected to write new rules that allow older retarded "students" to still play? Is this dummy and his parents going to insist on letting him play till he's 30? What about the normal boy who's spot he takes up when he leads the team out? God help you these days in America if you are a white male, natural born citizen who has all his arms, legs, and an IQ higher than a watermelon's. All we are good for is paying the taxes that carry this country and serving in the military. Seriously, show him the door or dress him up as a mascot and have him dance at halftime or something.

HS Football

I played High School football. On my high school football team there weren't "spots," anyone who is 1)Senior or 2)Shows the ability to play at a higher level gets to play. There are an unlimited number of roster spots, but the distinction is that not everyone gets to play (the coach would always say, "you have only earned 1 play in 1 game all year by being on the team." You must not have played football, he's not taking up someones spot, and he's obviously not starting at any position.
Furthermore, we actually had 2 handicapped kids on our team. One was deaf (played defense), and one was unable to play because of braces on his weak leg bones, and he participated in a similar way as this kid. There is no risk to injury or opportunity to let him play. LET HIM PLAY.

Kelly's comment

Kelly, your attitude stinks! Whether Brett is allowed to play or not is not my concern with regard to your post and that of the other "sensitive, caring people (NOT), who have posted such negativity. You have a dirty rotten attitude towards people with disabilities evidenced by the fact that in one short paragraph you have called individuals with mental handicaps dummies, and can it be that you, oh holy one, were turned down for something because of "affirmative action"? I doubt it! I think you're just a redneck bully who can hardly wait to take the opportunity to belittle those who are different from you. If Brett is still allowed to attend school, as one post said he can do until he is 21, then he ought to be allowed to participate in any activity he is selected for until he is no longer a student at that school. He is no more likely to get hurt now than he has been in the years that he has already paricipated. I would imagine that his parents have signed a waiver already to allow him to participate with the team activities. There is no such thing as a policy that can't be changed. This is a stupid rule, IMO. The determining factor clearly should be whether the person is still a sudent in the school, NOT whether he/she has reached a certain age. Why don't you jocks, who failed to consider alternatives, admit you made a mistake and change the rule?JMHO

time to move on

so is this kid a human or a mascot? - he's past age and that's the rules. Rules are there for a reason. "thinking he's a football player" please - let the kid grow rather than sticking him in a role that he gets only because he has a "special condition". EVERY OTHER PLAYER has to follow the rules and Brett needs to understand that. He has great memories as should all high school students. but now he's over age so help him grow and understand and stop treating him like the team mascot

Brett and his Football Team

Agreed! Where was the parent who was supposed to arrange for Brett to do something else beside play football? How come that parent doesn't start easing Brett into real life scenarios such as the one they are experiencing? Stop putting the onus on the rules committee. They have a hard enough time trying to make sports available for all. They have concrete rules for age because an athlete in his late teens and early 20's is sufficiently stronger and more experienced than a 16-18 year old player. It is unfair for the other team. Adjusting the rule for only Brett will open up this rule for everyone else too. I played high school sports and everyone on our basketball and football team realized that there was an age limit. So stop treating Brett like he's a 3-year old. Use this opportunity to start teaching Brett some of the lessons in life. Help him understand that every athlete realizes that they have to move on from high school sports to another BETTER part of their life. I like the suggestion of making him an assistant coach who could lead the team out to the field and then take up his position on the sideline. Please help Brett realize that everyone matures and it will help him later in life when he runs into other situations and people who can't let him do what he wants.

The Head Coach and the

The Head Coach and the Administration can fix this, and elevate his sense of participation at the same time - Make him an Assistant Coach of some form. He will still be a part of the team, and may even become more of an inspiration, to his team, community, and others afflicted with this syndrome....



You're right, the same rules

You're right, the same rules should not apply. That includes changing a game for 35 kids so one can play. Give us a break. Cases like this always end up in lawsuits anyway, so the parents of these "Special" children can show their true colors. Your child, Ms. Bowen, is NO MORE IMPORTANT THAN MINE!!

Brett Bowden

Rules were made to be broken. This kid wants to play. It seems his team and coach want him. Let him play.

I have a son with Down

I have a son with Down Syndrome. He functions in the moderate range of mental retardation. I have always hated the term "special", we never thought of him as any more special than anyone else. He was never treated as different from any of our other children. Why then should he have different rules than the other children. My son is now 28 years old. He lives with a roommate who also has mental retardation. Both men, with some support, take care of their home, cook their meals and enjoy different activities in their communities just as my other grown children do. My son is a member of the local Moose Lodge and volunteers with other civic organizations. He holds down a full time job. It seems to me that if we as a society would not treat our folks with disabilities as "special" it would empower them to learn more things and obtain more skills. It might surprise all of us at what others can do when we don't try to label/limit them.

If the rule says you can't play after a certain age, then accept the rule. Otherwise, we may end up seeing some students flunk out so that they too can play for more years; as competitive as school ball is now, that would not surprise me.