Prep Rally

Omaha girls handed a technical foul for wearing pink fundraising uniforms at home

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

A high school girls basketball team in Nebraska is struggling to understand why officials would have upstaged the school's well-meaning charity game in which they wore pink uniforms to honor the Make-A-Wish Foundation by handing the team a technical foul.

As first reported by the Omaha World Herald and Omaha Fox affiliate KPTM, the Omaha (Neb.) Burke High girls basketball team was assessed a technical foul at the start of the second half of the team's game against visiting Columbus (Neb.) High for wearing pink uniforms in a home game. At the time, Burke led the game by a point, but Columbus coach Dave Licari brought up the fact that since Burke was the home team, they were required to wear white uniforms. The World-Herald reported that Licari's athletic director, John Krogstrand, was the man who brought the uniform violation to the coach's attention.

Naturally, the special pink uniforms being worn and auctioned off after the game to raise $2,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation that night didn't qualify as white, and the game officials — sticking to the strict interpretation of the rulebook — assessed a technical foul. A Columbus player walked to the line, sunk two free throws to give her squad the lead and after a brief Burke run to start the second half, the Columbus Discoverers rolled on to a 62-47 victory.

[Related: Boys soccer team booted from playoffs after 'clerical error']

As one might expect, the Burke players penalized for the special uniforms and the fans who were at the game are now struggling to comprehend how an opposing coach's decision to push for that technical foul fits into the larger sense of sportsmanship and community responsibility that is supposed to be an integral part of high school sports.

"We were just supporting a charity and I think that it was dumb that we had to get a technical foul for it," Burke junior Michaela Brown told KPTM.

It's a fairly traditional fundraising technique for high school girls teams, regardless of the sport they compete in, to wear pink jerseys for a single-game fundraiser. The gesture is a win-win proposition: It raises money for a charitable cause, it gives the student athletes a deeper sense of awareness of how they can make a difference in their every day life and it puts sports in their proper place.

Even a boys football team in Michigan is in on the pink jersey action so its players can help fundraise for breast cancer.

In short, nothing bad is supposed to happen when players wear pink. Yet that's precisely what happened in Omaha.

For his part, the Burke athletic director is owning up to the mistake for overlooking the technicalities pertaining to wearing only white uniforms at home and obtaining an exemption for that rule. Still, it's hard to feel that the Burke coaching staff or its players did anything wrong at all. Rather, they used a clever idea by an assistant coach -- the World-Herald reported that the charity game was originally the idea of Burke assistant Tom Law -- to raise even more money than they had hoped for.

"It was a good event, but we just made a mistake that over shadowed that," Burke athletic director Kyle Rohrig told KPTM, taking a more positive tone when discussing the $2,600 raised by the auction of the jerseys after the game. "I'm glad we could at least be the event site where we could get that done and I am glad we were able to do that.

"Raising money for charity is just a part of life and I think it was opportunity for us to do that."

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