The Difference Between Protecting and Controlling Student Athletes

October 27, 2021


The Fair Grove High School Cheerleaders.

Schools around the nation have all sorts of different rules regarding the way students change their appearance, from clothing and nails to piercings and hair.

At many schools, there are a plethora of students who are active in sports and are referred to as student athletes. These students are expected to keep their grades up, show a higher level of respect, and are urged to make good decisions. This leaves the many to wonder, where is the line drawn between having good representation for your school versus controlling your student athletes?

In the United States, most school sports have uniforms which all match almost identically. This creates a sense of togetherness and makes it easy to focus on the game itself instead of the player’s individuality. However in some instances, one may say that schools enforce the togetherness of their sports in extremity.

When it comes to hair, there have been restrictions on hair colors like bright blues, lime greens, pungent pinks, or anything considered unnatural. There has also been news on restrictions of beads, dreads, feathers and other unique, cultural hairstyles. Even though dyed hair is no threat, certain hair accessories could be considered harmful.

If schools are to regulate their students’ hair, they should also be required to give alternatives such as safer hair styles, caps, and possibly even athletic tape. This brings up the question, what is considered unsafe? For many sports students are not allowed to wear jewelry such as bracelets, necklaces, and especially earrings. This is for more obvious safety reasons as the material of these accessories can hit and tear athletes.

There have also been instances where altered nails are not allowed in a variety of sports. For most schools this is not a requirement, but a suggestion. They can fall off during a game, hinder the athletes ability to use their hands, and even scratch teammates or opponents.

When schools require student athletes to change their appearance, there are circumstances where schools are over controlling and limit their students self-expression. When there is no possibility of harm, why make students change the way they look? Dyed hair doesn’t hurt anyone and only distracts from the game if you let it. Nails can be a nuisance, but when they are not hurting anyone they shouldn’t be forcefully removed. Most piercings can be taken out or have less harmful solutions.

When schools have cause to ask student athletes to change their appearance then let them, but a line needs to be drawn between schools controlling their student athletes and schools wanting good representation and protection for their athletes.

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