The Michigan High School Athletic Association has a fight on its hands and its growing in favor of Eric Dompierre every day. A petition at Change.org was started by Dean Dompierre, Eric’s father, to allow his son one more year of eligibility to participate in football and basketball his senior year.
For those that don’t know, Eric Dompierre is a teen with Down Syndrome who enjoys a healthy and exciting life through sports. However, due to an MHSAA rule that forbids an athlete to participate at the high school level if he or she is over 19, Eric cannot play his senior year because he began school later than his peers due to his disability (he would turn 20 during his senior year).
A quote from Dean at The Rockford Squire “Eric is who he is today because of sports. He’s never let the fact that he has a handicap be the handicap. He’s as responsible and as physically fit as he is because he’s been able to participate in athletics. I would hate to see that taken away from him,” said Dompierre. “Eric has also been an inspiration to our entire community. I watch him play when he’s on the field or on the court, but I also spend a lot of time watching the crowd because it’s heartwarming to see the unconditional support that they give him.”
Clearly, sports have played an amazing role in Eric’s life and the development that he has enjoyed. Being the father of a special needs child myself (daughter has cystic fibrosis), I know for a fact that sports have helped keep her healthy all of these years. Additionally, I believe that, as a society, we all have an obligation to help those who are in need. While I understand that the MHSAA has an obligation to make people follow the rules, should it be done at all costs?
I think we can all agree that it’s not Eric’s fault that his disability kept him from starting school at the same age as other children. Further, I will almost guarantee you that, in the spirit of the rule, none of the opponents that Eric would face will cry foul.
If you believe that Eric deserves to have a chance to participate in sports during his senior year, please consider signing the petition. In the end, they hope the petition will encourage the MHSAA to modify its rules specifically for those with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities .
I look forward to following Eric’s story and want to thank Joe Dexter of The Buckeye Battle Cry for bringing it to our attention. Enjoy they video of Eric provided at the petition site on Change.org:
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