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How can you throw a legless kid out of a game for not wearing shoes? Can you throw an armless kid out for not wearing wristbands? And even if he were suddenly to produce shoes and knee and thigh pads, where was Bobby supposed to wear them? From his ears?
In fact, Bobby did borrow a pair of cleats and came out during the third quarter with them tied to his belt. You want me to wear shoes, I'm wearing shoes. But the school's athletic director, Carolyn Woodley, took them off, telling him that it was "undignified." Though, by the refs' own black-and-white logic, it should've worked. Where is it written that the shoes have to be worn on the feet?
Is there anything worse than a whistle-worshiping, self-important stiff who can't see past his precious rule book to the situation that stands in front of him? Even if that "situation" is a kid who stands about three feet tall and weighs 112 pounds, 101 of it heart?
Wait. I take that back. The only thing worse is talk-radio goofs like Cincinnati's Andy Furman, who told his listeners the whole thing was "a charade and a freak show."
"The rule says you have to wear shoes and pads, period," Furman told me. "He can't play. He's handicapped. There's certain things handicapped people can't and shouldn't do, and one of them is play football. Would you put Stevie Wonder behind the wheel of a car? No! Who in their right mind would put this kid out there?"
Hey, Andy, you've got to cut back on the glue sniffing.
It'd be nice if any of these people actually took five minutes to get to know Bobby Martin before deciding what he can and can't do with his life.
He bowls, dances and does flips and cartwheels. He flies off staircases on his custom-made skateboard. He weaves down the hall between classes on it doing one-handed handstands. He built his own computer, ground up. He's the guy you go to when your car stereo won't work. Your car, too, for that matter.
Whatever he lacks in height, he makes up for in humor. The other day, one of the coaches, who happens to be missing a front tooth, told the players, "O.K., everybody take a knee. Even you, Bobby."
To which Bobby cracked back, "Sure, coach. Right after you go and visit an orthodontist."