October 22, 2012 • 20 Second Timeouts94 FeetWinning Hoops

Coach Was Correct In Having Player Remove Pink Gear

The headline of “Player Punished For Wearing Pink Gloves” elicits the kind of response you’d expect—outrage, shock and anger. Some fans and parents were angry when Corbin High (Ky.) sophomore football player Austin O’Neill was disciplined and ordered not to wear pink gloves and a pink towel during Friday night’s football game, especially because O’Neill says he wore them in honor of his best friend’s mom who passed away due to breast cancer.

Watch an NFL game in October and pink is everywhere. It’s a fantastic effort by the league to draw such awareness to a great cause. So, where is the harm in a high school athlete wanting to do the same?

Well, first off, O’Neill never received clearance to wear the special gloves. As with most teams, uniform and accessories colors must be the same across the board. If a coach sets up parameters for uniform standards, they must be met by everyone on the squad, regardless of the motive. Sure, it’s hard to argue with supporting breast cancer. But, what if a different player selects a different cause? Does the coach now have to vet out every cause individual players want to support? Head coach Steve Jewell already had approached his players about sporting pink helmet decals in support of breast cancer awareness.

Also, is it just the players who can afford special equipment who get to support causes? Is it fair for the less-off athletes to not have the gloves while other players wear them? This again is why a standard uniform policy is so critical. Players wear the equipment and uniforms issued to them. Unless the school is purchasing pink gloves for everyone on the squad, or if every player agrees to buy them, then the coach has no other option but to ban them.

This isn’t an issue of a coach being against breast cancer awareness—that’s an illogical and ridiculous sentiment. Coaches need to have rules and need those rules to be followed. O’Neill did not follow the rules, so he was punished. Case closed.

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