January 07, 2011
George Steinbrenner famously refused to let Yankees players compete with any facial hair, or "unruly" haircuts. While those relatively manic standards were applied to professionals (extremely highly compensated professionals, at that), a similar measure is now being used to keep an eighth grader off his junior high basketball team.
According to a number of sources, the Indianapolis Star and Associated Press chief among them, the parents of a Greensburg (Ind.) Community Junior High School student have filed a lawsuit against the district citing discrimination against their son, who was kicked off the team because his hairstyle violated a code of appearance established by Greensburg High coach Stacy Meyer, pictured above, which was stipulated in the school's extra-curricular code.
TheIndyChannel.com reported the lawsuit claims coaches told the player he wouldn't be allowed on the court if he failed to cut his hair by a certain date. When the 14-year-old questioned why that was necessary, he was also told that he would be kicked off the team if his parents -- Patrick and Melissa Hayden -- protested the policy.
Obviously, the player and his parents decided to fight for his rights rather than acquiesce to the extracurricular policy's claim that a player's hair be above his eyebrows, collars and ears.
Interestingly, this is the second time in two past calendar years that Greensburg Junior High's basketball team has garnered regional attention for issues it would rather avoid. According to the Greensburg Daily News, the junior high program was involved in a nasty hazing scandal in February 2009, with little official punishment resulting from an episode in which some players hit their teammates in the face with genatalia.
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While the banned player's parents feel they have a strong case based on unequal enforcement of the code -- girls are not required to meet similar hair standards to compete in basketball -- the school district claims that a student's right to participate in extracurricular activities is a privilege, not a right.
"In Indiana, everybody is entitled to an education, and that's a right," Greensburg School District Tuck Hopkins told TheIndyChannel.com. "Playing extracurricular activities, we believe the law is it's a privilege, and that's the distinction."
Whether or not the law agrees with that contention is another matter. Regardless of how judges rule, the local public certainly seems to be nearly unanimous in it's support of the athlete in question, as a number told TheIndyChannel.com.
"I just think he should be stipulated to tie his hair up or something like that," said Anthony Johnson. "To cut it off, I think that's taking away a person's mind, body and soul sometimes."
"I think they should be able to wear their hair the way they want to on a basketball team or anywhere else," said resident Aleigh Class.
"It's discrimination, plain and simple," said resident Jesse Summers. "I hope they get what they are after."
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