Rick Wolff's Sports Edge: Left out in Utah


Perhaps you heard about this story from Utah where a 14-year-old child with Down Syndrome was considered to be a member of the school’s cheerleading squad? She even sat for the cheerleader’s team photo with all the other girls.

But when the middle school released the official team photo in their yearbook and in other media outlets, whoever was in charge at the school decided to use another photo of the cheerleading squad – a photo that did not include the girl with Down Syndrome.

I assume that somebody in charge at this school must have decided that technically, this girl wasn’t really one of the cheerleaders…after all, she was just the team manager – as though that somehow made a difference.

Remember we talked the other day about HS coaches and parents and the responsibility to think ahead about the impact of their actions on kids, like the HS football coach in Ohio who forced a football player to eat a pizza against his religious beliefs?

Here are more details about what happened in this school out in Utah.

Eighth-grader Morgyn Arnold, who has Down syndrome, came home from the last day of school feeling deflated and full of questions about why she wasn’t in the photo of the Shoreline Junior High School’s cheerleading team. Morgyn, 14, was officially the team manager of the cheerleading squad; she attended practices, learned the routines, and cheered alongside her other teammates at every home game, her sister said. She was also very popular with all the other girls on the squad.

The Shoreline Junior High cheerleading team sat for two photos for the yearbook; one included Morgyn, right in the middle of the front row wearing a big and very proud grin, but inexplicably, she was not included in the other photo.

“I hope that no one ever has to experience the heartbreak that comes when the person they love comes home from school devastated and shows them that they’re not in the picture with their team. I hope that no one ever has to explain why people deliberately choose to be exclusive,” her sister, Jordyn, wrote on Facebook.

I mean, what were the adults at that school thinking? That we should ONLY use the photo of those girls who actually made the team? And leave out the shot with Morgyn in it – as though nobody would notice or care? Did anyone give any thought as to what kind of impact that decision would have on Morgyn?

No one explained any of this in advance to the 14-year-old or her family. She was just left to open her yearbook with great enthusiasm – only to see her expectations crushed.

I urge you to listen to this show. Listen to the outrage from the callers.

Read more on this story at askcoachwolff.com, tune in to WFAN every Sunday morning at 8 A.M. for 'Rick Wolff's Sports Edge,' and follow Rick Wolff on Twitter @askcoachwolff.