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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

The politics of hair and junior high basketball

Thursday, January 6, 2011

"Give me a head with hair, long beautiful hair

Shining, gleaming, streaming, flaxen, waxen

Give me down to there, hair, shoulder length or longer

Here baby, there, momma, everywhere, daddy, daddy

Hair, flow it, show it

Long as God can grow, my hair"

-- lyric, "Hair" from the musical of the same name

Ah, the golden locks of my youth, how fondly I remember them.

As I approach my 50th birthday, I discover fewer and fewer hairs on my head. I have been among the "follically challenged" for many years, and the hair that remains grows grayer each time it is cut.

I grew up in the late 1960s and 70s when boys and men grew their hair out. By the time I was a senior, the fashion trends had begun their move back to shorter hair.

In my elementary and junior high days, I observed some guys with really long hair. All part of that peace, love and don't you tell me what to do phase we went through as a nation during the time of the Vietnam War and shortly after.

Looking back at some of the senior pictures of the era can provide some laughs today. It all seemed rather silly, viewed through the hindsight of several decades.

I mention this to give you some perspective. Fashion trends, like hair lengths, change all the time. Without this change, there is nothing new to sell the public.

I heard a news item about the parents of a 14-year-old in Indiana filing a lawsuit in federal court, seeking to declare the haircut policy of the junior high basketball team unconstitutional.

Yes, unconstitutional, a violation of the minor's right of free speech.

That, in a nutshell, in my opinion, is what is wrong with our society today. Societies are based on rules. If people don't follow the rules, there are consequences for their actions. If this basic tenet is not followed, eventually society crumbles.

Patrick and Melissa Hayden filed suit in federal court in Indianapolis, alleging that Greensburg Junior High's team rules governing the length of players' hair violate their son's right to wear his hair the way he wants. The suit also alleges that the district treats male and female athletes differently because female players don't have to adhere to the same guidelines.

The Hayden's son was kicked off of the team when he refused to comply with team rules, which require players' hair to be above their eyebrows, collars and ears.

After meeting with the coach and school officials, who refused to change the policy, the Haydens decided to sue.

The Haydens are asking the court to force the schools to stop enforcing the team's haircut policy and rule that it's unconstitutional, as well as award any necessary damages to the family.

Their attorney, Ron Frazier, says that the Haydens are trying to teach their son a "life lesson, which simply is that you fight for what's right."

The district says that the policy didn't violate his rights. He still attends classes, but can not participate in extracurricular activities because participation is a privilege, not a right.

The "life lesson" that the Haydens are seeking to teach their son is that if you can't get your way playing by the rules, try bullying the other person to get your way. If that doesn't work, choose the ultimate all-American course of action -- sue 'em.

So, the school district will spend thousands of dollars defending itself from a baseless charge in an object lesson for a 14-year-old and parents that can't -- or won't -- say no.

Is this a great country, or what?

Other courts have ruled that extracurricular activities can have rules like this, because participation is, in fact, a privilege. There are special rules of all sorts in extracurricular activities designed to encourage positive behaviors. There's nothing wrong, and a great deal right about this.

I hope the unfortunate judge that has to hear this drivel dismisses the lawsuit and forces the parents to pay all court costs -- including the legal fees for the school district.

There's another life lesson that needs to be learned here: you can't always get what you want.

As always, I welcome your comments. You can reach me by email at tstangl@lemarscomm.net, telephone 712-546-7031, x40 or toll free 1-800-728-0066 x40.

Thanks for reading, I'll keep in touch. Feel free to do the same.

By Tom Stangl
From the publisher's desk

© 2016 Le Mars Daily Sentinel