Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Cornrows are unsafe!

This was from yesterday's News & Observer:

High school athletes in the Cumberland County School district were introduced to a new rule this season: no dreadlocks, cornrows or long hair.

In early August, Cumberland County athletics directors, citing a concern for safety, voted 8-2 to add the systemwide policy to current grooming regulations in the athletics handbook.

The decision prompted concerns among some players and parents, who thought the new rule targeted specific groups, in particular black football players.
This is as hair-brained (pardon the pun) an idea as I've ever heard. Cumberland County is very diversely populated, so it's even more surprising that such a silly rule would be added to the books. Since when is hair a danger? How many times have you seen Plax or Troy Polamalu get dragged down by their hair? Is that the concern, that hair is considered part of the uniform and opponents can use it as an aide to facilitate tackling?

Here's an idea, instead of wasting everyone's time (and pissing off a majority of players, parents and coaches), why not use that energy to stress proper techniques that reduce football-related injuries (or maybe have a couple of fundraisers and purchase those new-fangled helmets that reduce concussions). You read at least once a season about a high school kid who is paralyzed due to some spinal injury. It seems reasonable that teaching kids how to tackle (or be tackled) would provide more in the way of safety than having a field full of bald-headed kids ever would.

And that's what one coach plans to do:

"Anything that would target one particular group wouldn't be fair," said Durham County athletics director Larry McDonald. "Unless I can get some statistical data or the [football helmet] manufacturing company tells me that there is a risk, I'm not going to go into a cultural thing. For me, that's what it would be."

Instead, McDonald said he will stress safety, reminding athletics directors and football coaches to follow equipment manufacturers' guidelines.
Makes sense to me.