NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A new rule on how hair can be worn for secondary basketball players has created concern.
Joshua Heard, the boys’ basketball coach at Cookeville High School said the rule was presented through an offensive and disrespectful handout. “My group of coaches that saw that last night, [they] were so disrespected, they were in shock.”
📧 Have breaking come to you: Subscribe to News 2 email alerts →
According to Heard, the handout was passed around during the yearly regional coaches meeting with the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association. The illustrations were handed out to explain a new rule for the 2022-2023 school year.
“That first pic in the handout is a way I’ve seen kids play with their hair for years. The picture just targets one group, one group,” Heard said.
A spokesperson for TSSAA said rules are brought down by the National Federation of State High School Associations.
The rule passed back in April states, “adornments made of hard material are permitted provided they are securely fastened close to the head and do not present an increased risk to the player, teammates or opponents.”
“To my knowledge, I have never seen a high school student injured over hair,” Heard said.
However, Heard said the handout is where the concern lies. “They are all African American, and their hairstyles are all African American hairstyles that they showed.”
He said he’s been coaching in the Upper Cumberland area since he was 22 and he’s never seen something like this in his coaching career. “I just want that handout to disappear, and I want some background knowledge on why this rule needs to be put into effect.”
News 2 reached out to the National Federation of State High School Associations who said the rationale behind the rule is that it creates inclusivity while avoiding injury to teammates.
In an email, TSSAA forwarded the NFHS publication with the illustration copied inside.