With his peers calling -- and tweeting -- for school administrators to #LetTimPlay, Tim Monette learned that he would be able to continue playing high school basketball this week.
Monette, a 17-year-old high school senior in Northville, N.Y., had been sidelined after being diagnosed with Burkitt's lymphoma, a rare, fast-growing cancer, in November. His treatment, involving heavy doses of chemotherapy, kept him off the court and from attending school regularly but he hired a tutor to keep up with his work. After being cleared by his doctor, Monette made an emotional return to the team in December.
But Monette feared his return had been cut short on Wednesday, reports the Times Union, when school administrators told him that he would no longer be able to take the court for his team's games. The reason given? According to Monette, he was told that his school attendance record made him ineligible to participate in sports.
"When he said he couldn't play, my heart just dropped," Shawna Monette, Tim's mother, said to the Times Union. "His basketball and his sports are everything to him."
As word of his potential ineligibility spread, students picked up the hashtag #LetTimPlay and protested across social media, briefly trending the term on Twitter, reports WNYT. The protest culminated with a sit-in of around 200 students in the school gymnasium Thursday morning.
To the delight of his supporters, school administrators soon announced that Monette could play after all. In a statement on the affair, Superintendent Debra Lynker framed the entire incident as a misunderstanding:
High School principal Mariah Kramer questioned Tim Monette’s eligibility to play basketball, given that the district policy requires a student be in attendance on the day of the game to be eligible to play. She responded fairly and properly by letting him play last night and telling his parents that she needed to investigate this further in the morning. Never did she say definitively that he could not play. After consulting me and the school’s attorney first thing this morning it was decided that the home tutoring he is receiving constitutes the requisite attendance and as long as he has a doctor’s clearance for each game, he may be eligible to play. It is unfortunate that misinformation circulated through social media before it could even be resolved properly.
The statement prompted Monette to let loose one more missive on Twitter. "There was no misunderstanding," he wrote. "They told me I couldn't play because it was policy #NiceTry."