New Jersey family sues to let daughter play on boys' basketball team

Friday, January 6, 2017
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Rob Nelson reports from Kenilworth about one girl's dream to keep playing team basketball

KENILWORTH, New Jersey (WABC) -- The family of a 12-year-old girl who wants to play for her school's boys' basketball team has sued the Archdiocese of Newark.

Sydney Phillips' father, Scott, said he doesn't want any money from the lawsuit, only for his daughter to be able to play basketball.

"The school should be embracing her spirit, her school spirit," he said. "And yet, they're breaking it."

Sydney played for the girls' team at St. Theresa's School in Kenilworth last year, but the team stopped playing because there weren't enough girls interested.

"I love the rush and the challenges of the game," she said. "I've been doing basketball ever since I was 2, and I just fell in love with the game. It's my favorite sport. I just want to play basketball."

The family says that the archdiocese does not have a specific rule prohibiting girls from playing on the boys' team.

"I asked, is there any written rule, because they kept saying it's our policy," Scott Phillips said. "I said, 'Give me the written rule. Just show it to me.' They have yet to show us a rule, girls can't play with boys."

The school said in a legal response that her application was filed late, but Scott Phillips disputes that.

"It's in litigation, so we will not comment," Newark Archdiocese spokesperson James Goodness said in a statement.

A hearing is scheduled for Jan. 5.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)