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      Battle over basketball continues for student with Down Syndrome

      Eric Dompierre plays basketball, his favorite sport

      Supporters of Eric Dompierre, an Ishpeming High School student with Down Syndrome, are in an uproar.

      The Michigan High School Athletic Association is standing their ground when it comes to waiving their rule that says students aren't allowed to play in a school sport if they are 19 or older.

      Since Eric was held back because of his disability, he will be ineligible to play basketball his senior year.

      The Dompierre family and Ishpeming High School have sent three proposals to the association, asking them to waive their rule for Eric.

      "One of the reasons why high school sports is so valuable is because of the rules and the adherence to them. I can't pretend to walk a mile in the young man's shoes, but I do know that often times, there's a lesson to following the rules. You know, we agreed to follow these rules, and, well, I might not agree with the rule, but I'm going to follow it," said MHSAA Associate Director, Tom Rashid.

      In order for the rule change to be considered, two-thirds of member schools have to vote in favor of the proposed waiver. The MHSAA says that the majority of Michigan school officials aren't in favor of changing the rule.

      Because the MHSAA doesn't want to consider the proposals anymore, the Dompierres are looking to their supporters for help. They're asking them to go to their local school districts and talk to authorities about approving the exception for Eric.

      After we reported the story, Eric's fan base skyrocketed. His father, Dean, created an online petition, and in under a week, it already has over 11,000 signatures.

      "I'm blown away by the support. I knew we had a lot of support in Ishpeming, and I knew we had a lot of support in the surrounding community. They've always been great to Eric, but to see the list of places that people come from who have gone and signed the petition is very heartwarming. And what really struck me is the power of social media, and it can bring forth change pretty rapidly," said Dean Dompierre.

      As for Eric, he is also amazed by the national support.

      "They saw me making a basket, and that brought them to give me attention and support me. It feels good because it's not just people from here, it's other states and other people that I don't know, and they support me and tell me they want me to play," said Eric.

      Student with Down Syndrome fights for his love of Basketball