All's fair in love and basketball until you ask a co-ed team to play without the girls.

Sitting in matching navy shirts with #unitygames on the front, the fifth-grade students raised their hands in a vote. It was unanimous.

Photo by John O’Boyle/NJ.com/Advance Media.

The members of the St. John's fifth-grade Catholic Youth Organization basketball team had made their decision. They would rather forfeit that Friday night’s game (and potentially the rest of the season) instead of the alternative: continuing to play without the two girls who had been part of the team for years.


If you’re thinking, "This sounds like the plot of a movie I would be deeply invested in," you’re not alone. The riveting real-life feel-good sports drama is playing out in New Jersey and, thanks to an article by NJ Advance Media, has captured the attention of the nation.

It all started two weeks ago, when the team found out that the girls were not going to be allowed to play on the team for the remainder of the season.

An error that had gone uncorrected for years — the team was never supposed to be co-ed in the first place — created a dilemma. Would the team play without the girls? Or would they stand together and forfeit the game?

But this isn't the part of the story where the coach steps in and teaches the team a lesson about unity. Get ready to be even more impressed.

Photo by John O’Boyle/NJ.com/Advance Media.

Coach Rob Martel refused to make a decision for the kids, instead letting them decide how to move forward on their own.

"One parent told me it's my decision (whether the girls play), but I said no way, I'm not making this decision for 11 10-year-olds," said Martel, whose daughter is one of the girls on the team.

Last Friday, sitting in the gym in matching shirts, the players voted on what they thought was fair, reaching the unanimous decision that unless the whole team could play Friday's game, the whole team would skip it in a show of solidarity.

The following day, the girls tried to return the favor, volunteering to sit out for Saturday’s game in hopes that the boys would be able to play in the final game of the season.

Unfortunately, their generosity was not rewarded. The league director called the team's decision to sit out of Friday's game a "stunt," Keisha Martel, an assistant coach for the St. John’s team, told NJ Advance Media, and as a result, the game was canceled and the season forfeited.

The team wouldn’t be allowed finish the season together, apart, or at all.

Photo by John O’Boyle/NJ.com/Advance Media.

The kids weren’t the only ones disappointed by the situation.

The St. John’s team was scheduled to play their final game against Aquinas Academy on Saturday. Leslie Thomas, Aquinas Academy’s athletic director, received news only hours before that the game was canceled.

Photo by John O’Boyle/NJ.com/Advance Media.

"I'm sick and tired of this," Thomas said. "It's not necessary. This league is about teaching our kids sportsmanship and this is definitely not sportsmanship."

Photo by John O’Boyle/NJ.com/Advance Media.

(Update 2/16/17: Let's hear it for the girls! The decision has been reversed, which means the girls will be allowed back on the St. John's team. And that's not all! The two regular season games the team forfeited will be rescheduled and played ASAP, according to NJ Advance Media. The fifth graders will get a chance to go to the playoffs after all. Most importantly, they'll get to go together.)

Stories like this are just one more example of how girls are often so easily pushed out of sports at a young age.

According to the National Women's Law Center, girls who play sports "report better health, body image, popularity, and an overall higher quality of life, compared to girls who don’t play sports." Unfortunately, as the Women's Sports Foundation has found, by the time girls reach age 14, they're dropping out of sports at twice the rate of boys their age.

So what's keeping our girls from pursuing organized team sports and gaining all of those benefits? You guessed it: One of the main reasons for this dramatic decrease in girls playing sports is lack of access.

Think about that. Really think about it. What if lack of access had kept our country's best athletes from the court or the field or the pitch?

For starters, the United States would've won five fewer medals in the Rio Olympics had Simone Biles been told there wasn't a place for her in the gym.

Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images.

What about all the girls who are now playing soccer after watching the U.S. Women's National Team win the 2015 FIFA World Cup? What would they be doing after school if Carli Lloyd hadn't been given the opportunity to play growing up?

This story isn't just about these two girls on the St. John's team who are being told after years of playing on the same team as their male peers that they're no longer welcome on the court. This is about every girl who deserves a chance to be part of something bigger than herself and every girl who will be inspired by her in the years to come.

So look around in your community. Do girls have equal access to sports teams? What opportunities can you help create that would allow them pursue the games they love?

Watch the girls. Cheer them on. And if you're the one making the call, let them play.

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Should a man lose his home because the grass in his yard grew higher than 10 inches? The city of Dunedin, Florida seems to think so.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing Jim Ficken, he had a very good reason for not mowing his lawn – and tried to rectify the situation as best he could.

In 2014, Jim's mom became ill and he visited her often in South Carolina to help her out. When he was away, his grass grew too long and he was cited by a code office; he cut the grass and wasn't fined.

France has started forcing supermarkets to donate food instead of throwing it away.

But several years later, this one infraction would come back to haunt him after he left to take care of him's mom's affairs after she died. The arrangements he made to have his grass cut fell through (his friend who he asked to help him out passed away unexpectedly) and that set off a chain reaction that may result in him losing his home.

The 69-year-old retiree now faces a $29,833.50 fine plus interest. Watch the video to find out just what Jim is having to deal with.

Mow Your Lawn or Lose Your House! www.youtube.com

Cities

The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Don't like Michelle Obama? Don't care. Those of us who love her will fly our MO flags high and without apology, paying no mind to folks with cold, dead hearts who don't know a gem of a human being when they see one. There is nothing any hater can say or do to make us admire this undeniably admirable woman any less.

When it seems like the world has lost its mind—which is how it feels most days these days—I'm just going to keep coming back to this study as evidence that hope for humanity is not lost.

Here. Enjoy some real-life Michelle on Jimmy Kimmel. (GAH. WHY IS SHE SO CUTE AND AWESOME. I can't even handle it.)

Michelle & Barack Obama are Boring Now www.youtube.com

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via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

Planet

The world is dark and full of terrors, but every once in a while it graces us with something to warm our icy-cold hearts. And that is what we have today, with a single dad who went viral on Twitter after his daughter posted the photos he sent her when trying to pick out and outfit for his date. You love to see it.




After seeing these heartwarming pics, people on Twitter started suggesting this adorable man date their moms. It was essentially a mom and date matchmaking frenzy.

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