Boy Beats Cancer, Gets Cut From Basketball Team

The Eagan (MN) Traveling Basketball Association has a funny way of rewarding the brave. One of its participants, young Conor Smith, was 11 when he was stricken with a brain tumor in 2007. During his treatment, doctors also diagnosed Conor with Leukemia. Obviously, basketball was out of the question as he received chemotherapy for the rest of the 2007 season, but he returned to play in 2008.

Conor Smith Basketball Leukemia
(Sorry, Conor, but you’re going to have to learn that life is full of unreasonable people sooner or later.)

Fast-forward to 2009, and while tryouts were going on, Smith was in the midst of a 3-week stint where he needed casts on his legs to ease stiffened calf muscles. From the chemotherapy. Because, you know, he was a child recovering from cancer. Well, regardless of the fact that he’ll be out of them soon, the lowest division of Eagan Traveling Basketball has decided to axe him from the ranks of players. Really.

From KARE-11 in Minneapolis:

“I had no idea this was coming at all. I was completely shocked,” said Tim Smith, Conor’s dad, still reeling from the news that his 13-year-old son has been cut from a “C” team, the lowest rung of the Eagan Traveling Basketball association

The casts will be off by next week, but that was too late for the board that oversees Eagan Traveling Basketball.

“Could there be an exception, I guess there could have been but we try to keep everything according to our policies as best we can,” said Beth Koenig, who co-directs the basketball association with her husband Gregg.

Okay. It’s often the case that people unfamiliar with administrative roles often place procedure above common sense. Sometimes, it’s to protect authority and objectivity in situations of great import, like with the NCAA and its arcane but steadfast rules.

And then, sometimes, it’s about the lowest division of some youth basketball league in the middle of Minnesota.

So what was the deal? Was it just a case of Smith being unpopular and not liked by a coach who was unwilling to grant him that exception Koenig mentioned? Well, no, not exactly:

Tim Smith says he was also told he was no longer needed as a coach, a volunteer position he had held within the youth basketball organization.

We’re just spitballin’ here, but we’re pretty sure the ETB’s going to find an exception pretty soon, lest they think there’s value in being the goats of one of the worst PR blunders in youth sports history.