Pee wee league sued for allegedly including 12-, 13-year-old players

SILVERDALE, Wash. -- Hard-hitting action in pee wee football has prompted hard-hitting action in the courtroom.

A player's family is suing the team over what it considers unsafe practices. The issue involves older kids allegedly being allowed to play against much younger kids.

"The game is rough enough as it is without doing additional things to increase the risk, and this definitely increases the risk when you have seventh graders playing with fifth graders," said parent Dale Barr.

Barr's 10-year-old son, Sterling, had been playing on the Silverdale Pee Wee B-team for 10- and 11-year-olds when suddenly 12- and 13-year-olds were allowed on. Practice suddenly became a dangerous situation, according to Barr.

"My kid was taking some pretty serious hits," he said. "He's a tough kid. He's out there, taking it."

Some complained, Barr said, and those who did were kicked off the team. Now the field of play is the courtroom with the filing of a lawsuit.

"We want to, frankly, make sure there are no serious injuries that occur on the field," said Jim Ruttler, and attorney representing Barr's family. "And we feel, in good conscience, we can't ignore this situation and just walk away from it."

The lawsuit says player safety is critical, especially in light of the serious injuries like the one sustained by Zackery Lystedt, whose case changed laws on how concussions are handled.

Th age range of players hadn't been an issue for the league in previous years. But the Barrs were told there aren't enough 12- and 13-year-olds to form a team., so they are being allowed to play down a grade.

The suit says the measure could yield dangerous results.

"There's the additional component of age, strength, agility, testosterone -- a strength factor that I just don't want to put my child on the field with those kind of kids," said Barr.

The attorney representing the league did not wish to comment.