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Newly enforced esoteric rule forces California school to alter iconic jerseys

Jonathan Wall
Prep Rally

For the last 51 years, Kearny (Calif.) High has been one of the most recognizable football teams in the state for one reason: the maroon and white vertical stripes on the shoulder pads of its jersey.

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The Kearny football team, in its traditional uniforms — BeRecruited

The Kearny football team, in its traditional uniforms — BeRecruited

The look has been around since former head coach Birt Slater made the addition in 1961. But when Kearny takes the field this season, it'll do so with jerseys that no longer have the iconic stripes.

According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, the team was forced to get rid of the look due to a "newly enforced national rule" that requires the stripes on the jersey to be a specific length. If you think this is a joke or something you'd find on The Onion, just read what the national federation now requires when it comes to stripes on a jersey.

According to the national federation, decorative stripes added in the shoulder area are not to exceed 3.5 inches in length. Kearny's stripes are longer than 3.5 inches and also fail to meet one other standard.

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A look at the full Kearny uniform, including helmet — BeRecruited

A look at the full Kearny uniform, including helmet — BeRecruited

As you'd probably expect, former players and current school officials weren't exactly pleased with the decision. They also didn't appreciate having to spend $4,500 for new jerseys that arrived just in time for Kearny's first game of the season.

"The stripes on the Kearny jersey aren't just stripes. They represent something much bigger and much deeper than a maroon and white line," Cheryl Hibbeln, principal of digital media design at Kearny, told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "They represent years of a football tradition that is incredibly important to this community."

If you're wondering why the rule was made in the first place, athletic officials in the San Diego area apparently allowed teams to put whatever they wanted on their jerseys in 2003, and some teams decided to go crazy. The new rule is supposed to tighten up the colorful jerseys.

I can understand cutting down on ridiculous-looking jerseys, but Kearny's stripes have been around since 1961, well before the lax 2003 jersey rule was put in place. Compared to, say, the University of Oregon, Kearney's stripes are incredibly tame.

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Kearny's away uniforms also feature sleeve stripes — BeRecruited

Kearny's away uniforms also feature sleeve stripes — BeRecruited

In my opinion, the decision to mess with something that's part of the team's history just doesn't make any sense.

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