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Ontario father considers legal action after son denied tryout with older school basketball team

Click to play video 'Underage Orangeville-area basketball player denied tryout with older school team' Underage Orangeville-area basketball player denied tryout with older school team
WATCH ABOVE: The boy’s father and the local school board differ over whether refusal to let the boy try out for school basketball team is "discrimination" or "a matter of fairness." Mark Carcasole reports – Jan 23, 2018

To his basketball teammates, he’s known as “Brycey Buckets.”

Bryce Dennis’ father describes the Mono, Ont., basketballer as having “a real natural knack to get the ball in the basket.”

Elvis Dennis said his son, who just turned nine last week, has regularly competed with and against older players in the Canadian Youth Basketball League. He was even selected as an all-star in the league’s fourth grade age group.

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Bryce is in Grade 3 at St. Benedict Elementary School. While he plays rep basketball above his age group, he won’t get the chance to do the same on his school’s junior-level team, which consists of students between Grades 4 and 6.

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“He was denied the opportunity to try out for the team,” Elvis said.

The Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board said Bryce is more than welcome to try out for the team next year.

“It’s very simple, it’s a matter of eligibility … it’s based on grade,” spokesperson Bruce Campbell told Global News.

“Unfortunately the student is just not in the appropriate grade to try out, so he’s ineligible.”

Bryce Dennis.

The board said there are over 40 eligible players trying out for just 12 open spots, so they have to leave room for those that fit the age bracket.

“It’s a matter of fairness,” Campbell said.

“What do you say to the parents of the 40-odd children, one of whom could possibly be usurped by an ineligible (player)?”

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Campbell also suggested that allowing a student to move up an age group sets a precedent that could make it acceptable for older kids to drop to a younger group.

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There is no actual board policy dictating that a younger player can’t try out for an older team, but Elvis said there is a policy strictly prohibiting any form of discrimination and he feels his son’s situation is a prime example of age discrimination.

“If this were something to do with academics such as a math team or a spelling bee team or even a chess club for that matter, I don’t think that we would have the same issue.”

“There’s no discrimination,” Campbell said.

Elvis said he’s considering taking the issue to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal to decide that.

He said all he wants for Bryce is a chance to tryout. Asked why he won’t just let it go and let Bryce try out for the proper team, Elvis said his son doesn’t want to play against kids his own age.

“As a parent, my job is to constantly support and push my child in whatever avenue he chooses,” Elvis said.

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