WOODHAVEN, Mich. – A youth football team in Woodhaven is in the middle of a fight to finish its season after leaders said they planned to cut it short due to an incident at a game.
The Woodhaven Warriors have been trapped in the center of a major controversy. After an incident at a game, team leaders considered pulling the plug on the program, but then had a change of heart.
Now, it seems their season might still be cut short.
A Wednesday night meeting will determine whether or not the players and cheerleaders will get to compete in the postseason. Parents are upset because they believe the children shouldn't be punished over an incident that had nothing to do with them.
The team was having a great season, but now parents and assistant junior varsity coach Shawn Sage are left to wonder what's next.
"Are we just in or out?" Sage asked.
That's after a war of words between parents from the Warriors and another team. The Downriver Junior Football League board then decided the Warrior freshman, JV and varsity teams wouldn't get to go to the playoffs, though both the freshman and varsity teams qualified.
An email sent by one of the coaches to parents regarding the incident says the following in part:
"Parents....our coaches wives and our kids moms were cussed, spit on, and called distasteful racial obscenities which I care not to repeat, and from these events the [parents from the other team] embellished what actually happened (spun the story of what actually took place), submitted complaints to the league, which in turn started an investigation by the board. As a result, our executive committee, and those that first hand witnessed the event were requested to go before the board...so as you form your opinions, know that the distancing action that we as a program have chosen to take, is in no way out of spite or arrogance, but instead out of respect for those offended, and for the dignity of us standing up for what is right and decent. It is absolutely on behalf of your kids, our coaches, and you, our parents."
"These kids that I have, that I'm with, they didn't do it," Sage said. "I just don't want it affecting them. ... I'm praying for these kids."
Sage said Wednesday's vote will also determine if the cheerleaders get to compete in the postseason.
"I hate to say it, and it kills me, but people are watching the game," Sage said. "They'll hear the cheerleaders, sometimes, and they'll watch them, but the focus is on the game. This is their one day to get focused on. One day."
The uncertainty is difficult and emotional for Sage and other parents.
"If you were in my shoes, as a parent and a coach, what would you do?" Sage asked. "What would you do for your kids?"
The league board of directors will make the decision on whether to keep the Warriors out of the postseason or allow them to play.
"I know there's got to be rules and regulations, and I understand that," Sage said. "I didn't write the rule book, but here's what I know: These kids did nothing wrong."
The meeting will take place at 8 p.m. at a facility on River Drive in Lincoln Park.
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