Though GoFundMe has become a popular go-to for families seeking financial assistance after devastating illnesses or accidents, one Minnesota family has turned to the crowdfunding site for something quite different: help fighting a controversial call in high school sports.
Earlier this month, Marco Cavallaro, a football player with East Ridge High School in Woodbury, was ejected from a game and suspended "4 1/2 games" over a targeting penalty, his GoFundMe page says.
As the page's introduction points out, "there is no way to appeal a bad call/ejection in high school football" under Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) rules.
In a letter to MSHSL, which was shared on GoFundMe, the family says the suspension "has the chance to effectively end Marco’s high school career and jeopardize his college recruitment."
The letter promises the Cavallaros will "pursue legal action" if the punishment is not overturned – by Tuesday, Oct. 23.
Now that that date has passed, the family is asking the public for help raising $5,000 to cover attorney fees.
As of this writing, the effort has raised $425.
The targeting penalty
As the Cavallaros lay out in their letter to MSHSL, Marco is accused of having made an unnecessary and excessive targeting hit – deliberate, illegal helmet contact above the shoulders – against the quarterback from Centennial High, who East Ridge were playing that night.
However, the letter says, Marco "clearly hit the opposing player with his shoulder," something the family maintains can be seen in video from the game.
They point out the referee's call was inconsistent with the MSHSL's definition of targeting offenses.
For its part, Centennial High's football coach said their quarterback "was not injured in the play" and that "Centennial is not upset with it," according to the Pioneer Press.
The paper also reports that MSHSL executive director Erich Martens released a statement on the matter, saying the organization's "bylaw language clearly states ‘The decisions of contest officials are final’ and therefore there is no option for appeal.”
The current status of the Cavallaros' case is not clear.