Highlands Ranch

Player with prosthetic legs ruled ineligible to play

Bailey Roby practices shooting three-pointers during halftime. The Roby family had to pick up the special blue padding on his prosthetics the same day as the game “otherwise he wouldn’t be able to play,” according to his mother. Photo by Hannah Garcia
Bailey Roby practices shooting three-pointers during halftime. The Roby family had to pick up the special blue padding on his prosthetics the same day as the game “otherwise he wouldn’t be able to play,” according to his mother. Photo by Hannah Garcia
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With the last few minutes trickling off the clock, it was a layup by Mountain Vista senior Bailey Roby that made the crowd erupt in cheers.

“I’m usually a three-man,” said Roby, referencing his prolific ability to make his shots beyond the perimeter.

A bittersweet moment, and possibly the last chance the teen will have to score in his high school career. Born with just three toes on each foot, Roby had both legs amputated as a baby. He was fit with his first pair of prosthetic legs at age 3.

Now, wearing a pair of Ossur Flex-Run legs — similar to those of South African Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius — Roby is caught up in a tangle of red tape that will likely bar his entrance into another game this year.

The Golden Eagles improved to 14-1 after routing the Littleton Lions 80-49. And although Roby’s two points may not have won the Jan. 24 game, he still earned the loudest applause of the night following his entrance into the game with mere minutes left in the last quarter. Supporters hugged and patted Roby on the back, offering congratulations and condolences.

“Bailey has been involved in Mountain Vista basketball one way or another for the last four years,” said Pat McCabe, Mountain Vista’s athletic director.

Last year, as a junior, Roby made the junior varsity basketball team, fulfilling a dream. Since then, Roby has been a fourth-quarter favorite, with fans chanting his name and thundering with applause.

This year, Roby made the varsity team, playing in eight games and scoring 11 points. Midway through the season and after calls from officials, the Colorado High School Activities Association stepped in, claiming that it could not authorize Roby to play because of his disability.

“There was no way we could get an authorization letter for Bailey to play,” McCabe said. “We got a one-time official authorization (from CHSAA) for the game tonight against Littleton. After this, he won’t be able to get in the game.”

Although he was authorized to play last year on the junior varsity team, McCabe said the “speed and physicality” of varsity basketball poses more risk with Roby in the game.
But Roby’s parents, Kim and Scott, said they do not understand why the decision was enacted halfway through the season.

“It’s actually kind of confusing for us,” Scott Roby said. “We were told that it was an issue with the officiating, that the officials were not comfortable letting Bailey play without a waiver.”

With Mountain Vista’s .933 win rate so far this season, and eyes on the state championship, Bailey Roby said it would be hard to watch from the bench.

“It is my senior year, and it’s hard to play in my last game,” he said, expressing hope that CHSAA may reverse the decision. “They just need to work it out so that they’ll understand how to make sure prosthetics are OK in sports.”

When asked for the reasoning behind the decision, CHSAA assistant commissioner Bert Borgmann pointed to National Federation of State High School Association rule 3-5-1, which says that state associations can “provide reasonable accommodations” to individuals with “disabilities and/or special needs” and “extenuation circumstances” as long as those accommodations do not “fundamentally alter the sport, heighten risk to the athlete/others or place opponents at a disadvantage.”

“Nobody wants to tell anybody no, but we can’t authorize him to play, not only for other players but for him as well,” Borgmann said. “The rules are meant to keep the game what it’s supposed to be.”

Bailey Roby’s parents said they were “kept in the dark,” calling the decision to prevent their son from playing a surprise and insisted he poses no danger to himself or others. 
“We would just prefer to see Bailey be able to finish out the year, finish what he started,” Scott Roby said.

The family plans to protest the decision.

“I think the main thing is, I would hate for this to happen to someone else’s kid,” Kim Roby said. “We’re just trying to keep our heads up high and be a good team player.”
Despite the turmoil, Scott Roby said they were thankful for the time their son had on the court.

For now, Bailey Roby will have to take solace in cheering for his Golden Eagles from the bench as they make a run for the championship.

“Now, I just gotta sit on the bench and support (the team),” Bailey Roby said. “The most important thing is being a part of the team.”

Comments

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TBodensteiner

As I sit here in Iowa, this is disappointing to read how a "rule" can be "discovered" so late in the season. This young teenager is the embodiment of any young HS aged person, and even more-so. To overcome lifetime obstacles and challenges that 95% of us will never know, and to just "fit-in", as the majority of kids with NO disabilities are trying daily to do, is sadly lost in the "spirit" of HS athletics in general, and this ruling in particular.

With rules implemented post-haste 2/3rds the way through the season, it almost smells of a "witch hunt" of sorts at the expense of an innocent overachieving young man. It appears that his playing time has been limited to the last few minutes, well after the game outcomes have been decided, and yet someone, somewhere appears (to me anyhow)to be "envious"(?) of his HS (Mountain Vista's) basketball team's success, and is pointing the authorities to flex their muscles at his impairment.

The parents indicated that their son is not a threat to himself or others, and a quick Google search shows prosthetics have been approved for use in the Int'l sports world, and in many states and in many sports, showing no physical advantage. I sincerely hope that Mr. Roby, and any other youngster in Colorado or where-ever, who daily struggles to overcome the many obstacles that most others take for granted, is reinstated to being able to maybe rejoin his team and help represent them ON the court and finish his senior season and possibly even participate in the state playoffs. At the very least, that they adjust the rule there in CO as they have here in Iowa and elsewhere in the country, for the benefit of any physically challenged youth.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014 | Report this
MichaelG

I agree with everything the previous post. I have never written in to any article before, but this is what is wrong with sports in America. Bailey Roby is in inspiration to any young boy or girl that might have this disability and for the Colorado HS association to do this to him is a complete joke. He played most of the season. This young man has spent countless thousands of hours practicing basketball, and for a bunch of people who sit behind a desk, making decisions about young men's life with no consideration for what they are doing to Bailey Roby is criminal. These are probably the same people who could never play varsity sports at their own high school many years ago.

To the writer of this article, thank you. I hope this gets national attention. To take away a young mans senior year, after it is almost over , makes me sick. I can only hope the people who think they are "God" are held accountable for what they have done. And what they have done to the younger kids that have Baileys heart.

I can only hope the best for the family.

This story is spreading through the Midwest.

To whomever was involved with this decision, you are the worst of all people.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014 | Report this
broncosrule

As I read this article I now understand why it seems like so many kids are unhappy in this day and age. I moved to this part of the country when I was only 10 years old and thought I had seen everything. This is the biggest travesty of justices I have ever seen. When all you read anymore are articles about bad things happening, you have to sit back and say this young man has done more with his disability then 99.9% of people without have. For a group of people to take this away from him during his senior season is just awful. Good luck to you Bailey !! You are a true inspiration to us all.....

Thursday, January 30, 2014 | Report this
broncosrule

As I read this article I now understand why it seems like so many kids are unhappy in this day and age. I moved to this part of the country when I was only 10 years old and thought I had seen everything. This is the biggest travesty of justices I have ever seen. When all you read anymore are articles about bad things happening, you have to sit back and say this young man has done more with his disability then 99.9% of people without have. For a group of people to take this away from him during his senior season is just awful. Good luck to you Bailey !! You are a true inspiration to us all.....

Thursday, January 30, 2014 | Report this
broncosrule

As I read this article I now understand why it seems like so many kids are unhappy in this day and age. I moved to this part of the country when I was only 10 years old and thought I had seen everything. This is the biggest travesty of justices I have ever seen. When all you read anymore are articles about bad things happening, you have to sit back and say this young man has done more with his disability then 99.9% of people without have. For a group of people to take this away from him during his senior season is just awful. Good luck to you Bailey !! You are a true inspiration to us all.....

Thursday, January 30, 2014 | Report this
broncosrule

PAT MCCABE:

Do everyone a favor and resign. If you had any brains at all you would not have waited till this young man played in 8 varsity games then cut him off after playing his whole JV season also. You know darn well the "speed and physicality" of varsity from JR Varsity is not like he is all of a sudden taking the floor against the LA Lakers. I do not know Bailey Roby, but went to a school not too far away from yours and you don't care about anyone but yourself. You are only an athletic director of a high school.....one I would never send my kids to when they are old enough if you are still there !!!

I read you response to this article and it just makes you look more like an idiot.

Thursday, January 30, 2014 | Report this
brianw_523

broncosrule:

Regarding your earlier post about Pat McCabe. My name is Brian Wood and I am the JV Basketball coach at Mountain Vista and I am a varsity assistant. I have worked with Bailey for over two years.

Just to be clear, Pat McCabe did not make the decision to ban Bailey from playing. In fact, he has been one of Bailey's biggest advocates. He petitioned CHSAA to get Bailey clearance to play last year on the JV team. He petitioned again this year and CHSAA determined it was not safe for Bailey to play Varsity basketball.

While I disagree with the decision, it was not Pat McCabe who made it. Please check your facts in the future before throwing hatred and ignorant comments at someone.

Thursday, January 30, 2014 | Report this
AlliXCane

I was a Peer Intern at MVHS and I watched Bailey grown and I personally found joy in watching him do something he loves, Basketball. To take that away from him his last year of High School is unbelievable, and to do it halfway threw the season? I'm flabbergasted.. Just because he has prosthetic legs dose not mean he is not capable enough to play this game. He is a great young man, and I pray they rethink their ridiculous ruling! Good luck Bailey I hope you know how proud you make me feel to say I got to be a friend of yours.

Thursday, January 30, 2014 | Report this
KPeluso

Coach Wood,

Ryan Casey (director of web services at CHSAA) just tweeted that Bailey Roby can play as long as both teams reach an agreement! It's progress right? The petition has over 1855 votes now. Unfortunately, the ADA will take up to 8 weeks or more to hear back from them so it'll be too late for Bailey, however, if it's proven that the CHSAA is in violation of the ADA then perhaps it'll pave the way for future handi-capable students:-).

Thursday, January 30, 2014 | Report this