Public pressure has apparently forced the Colorado High School Activities Association to reconsider its decision based on safety concerns to prevent a Highlands Ranch (Colo.) Mountain Vista High boys' basketball player from playing on two prosthetic legs.
The Denver Post chronicled senior Bailey Roby's ongoing ordeal that at least has some resolution following a seemingly silly ruling by the state's prep athletics governing body.
Despite being born without a fibula in both legs and wearing prostheses since age 1, Roby, now 18, has played organized basketball since the eighth grade, impressed on the JV last season and made the varsity this winter, according to The Post report.
He reportedly played without incident last season, when the CHSAA penned an authorization letter on his behalf, and had appeared late in seven road blowouts for the Golden Eagles this winter to nothing but applause. In those appearances -- all Mountain Vista wins by an average of 28 points -- Roby, who stands 6-foot-5 on his prostheses, totaled nine points, attempting 12 of his 13 shots from behind the 3-point line.
Yet, officials prior to Mountain Vista's home game on Jan. 14 raised safety concerns over Roby's participation, according to The Denver Post. The Golden Eagles (15-1) then held him out of a 29-point blowout, choosing to let the CHSAA settle the matter.
Only the organization refused to issue another authorization letter on Roby's behalf, now citing a National Federation of High School Athletic Association rule "that prohibits players with prosthetic devices if they fundamentally alter the sport, place opponents at a disadvantage, or heighten risk of injury to the athlete or others," according to The Post.
"Nobody wants to tell anybody that they can't play a sport," CHSAA assistant commissioner Bert Borgmann told the paper. "We have an obligation to protect the students. A large part of the things we have to do is to deal with the safety of others."
In The Denver Post report, Roby countered, "It just doesn't make any sense at all."
Since then, Mountain Vista athletic director Pat McCabe successfully lobbied the CHSAA and rival Littleton's athletic department to allow Roby to appear at least once before his home fans with extra padding on his prosthetic legs on Jan. 24, according to the paper.
Roby responded with two points on three shot attempts, reportedly igniting "Bay-lee! Bay-lee!" chants. Soon afterwards, news of his struggle with the CHSAA quickly reached Twitter, where users created the hashtag #LetBaileyRobyHoop to show their support.
Within a week, the CHSAA reportedly conceded that Roby could play "on a game-by-game basis," granted Mountain Vista's opponent that night approves his participation. According to The Denver Post, Roby's family is still lobbying for a permanent solution in order to pave the way for similar athletes who may run into the same issue.
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