Coaches for a youth football league are upset and want answers after their team was sidelined for the playoffs. While officials within the league say it was for behavioral issues, team leadership says it's because of racial bias.
The Reisterstown Mustangs joined the Carroll County Youth Football and Cheer League this season. The board said the Reisterstown program was admitted on a "probationary basis" and new organizations can be barred from participation at any time.
The Reisterstown Mustangs are undefeated for the season but Saturday night shocking news from the league said they're out.
"I want to see us go back in. I want to see us play in the playoffs," said player, Josiah Groce.
Xander McCracken, another player said, "I feel disappointed that I can't get our third Superbowl."
The Mustangs have six teams, all should've gone to the playoffs this year.
"Our kids have done nothing wrong, they've exercised their right to play in this league, we were never given any warning," said Coach Rob McCracken.
"I just think we need an explanation for how the entire program being kicked out the league," said parent Missy Hannibal.
In a statement, The Carroll County Youth Football and Cheer League said The Mustangs cited behavioral concerns as the reason for the team's dismissal:
The CCYFCL is a youth football league comprised of teams from multiple counties. While those counties’ Dept. of Recreation and Parks sponsors recreation councils and their activities which have teams in this league, the Dept. of Recreation and Parks does not operate or sponsor the CCYFCL as a whole and the league is governed by its members and by-laws.
The Reisterstown program was admitted to the league this year on a probationary basis with a decision regarding their ongoing status to be made by the members at the conclusion of the season. Per the leagues by-laws, new organizations can be barred from further participation at the discretion of the Board of Directors and this action can be taken at any time. There have been several behavioral concerns involving this program during the season and tension related to how these occurrences were handled has been rising. Emotions tend to run high during playoffs, therefore, the league elected not to risk the safety of the participants and in an attempt to promote a safe conclusion to the season, the league’s programs voted to remove the Reisterstown program at the end of the regular season and prior to the playoffs.
The CCYFCL elected Executive Board (President, VPs, Secretary, and Treasurer) per the by-laws did not have a vote in the decision other than to break a tie (which was not needed). The vote count from member programs was unanimous as probationary programs have no vote re: disciplinary action. However, representatives from the CCYFCL and the Reisterstown Mustangs have been working in conjunction with Reisterstown Parks & Recreation to come to a resolution together that is in the best interest of all parties involved.
But team leaders say there's more to the story.
"We look a lot different than the rest of this league, we have the only African American president of our league," said Coach Dan Holmes.
"What you have here is African American children, African American coaches for the most part and African American leadership for the most part and that's something that varies throughout the league," Mustangs president, Marquita Melvin, told WMAR-2 News.
Melvin also said the teams have been targeted at games with racial slurs and discrimination.
"There's no way you can have people engaged in similar or worse behavior but you don't deal with that, but yet you target us."
Team leaders plan to appeal saying all they want is for The Mustangs to be in the playoffs. At this time, they're not concerned with next season.