New Jersey

Judge Rules Against NJ Girl Who Wanted to Play on Boys Basketball Team

What to Know

  • A judge in New Jersey said the family of a 13-year-old girl failed to make the case that she had a legal right to play on the boys team
  • St. Theresa School said that when a team doesn't have enough members, former members can join the team at the closets school in the league
  • The family argued she was discriminated against because she is a girl; they had asked the court to force the school to allow her to play

A judge in New Jersey said that the family of a 13-year-old girl failed to make their case that she should be allowed to play on the boys basketball team at her school. 

The family of seventh grader Sydney Phillips had asked a court to order her school to allow her to play on the team after St. Theresa School in Kenilworth canceled the girls team because there weren't enough members. 

Sydney's family argued that she was being discriminated against because she is a girl and the school, which is part of the Newark Archdiocese, does not have a specific rule prohibiting girls from playing on boys teams. 

But a judge said the family could not prove that their daughter had a legally established right to play basketball with the boys. 

St. Theresa School maintained the league had a girls division and a boys division and when teams lack enough members, former members of that team can play at the closest school in the league. 

The judge said the case didn't meet the standards for granting injunctive relief, such as evidence that Sydney had a reasonable expectation of success in the case and that immediate, irreparable harm would result if not granted.

The family had not sought money but wanted Sydney to be given a chance to play. 

Sydney's parents were in the court room Thursday to hear the disappointing news. 

"She's a great girl, she's a strong girl," Sydney’s dad Scott Phillips said. "You know who the real losers are, the boys team, because they would have gotten a great player and would have probably won another game or two." 

The family said they're not sure if they'll take the case further to the appellate division. 

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