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A college student was forced to cut her hair during a softball game after learning she was breaking the rules, she says.

However, he quickly became a focal point of the April 19 game. First, a coach for the opposing team said they couldn’t see his jersey number, Pyles said. Pyles, 16, said she put the braids back in her sports bra and continued to play. But then, later that same round, he came back.

A coach for the opposing team pointed the pearls to the referee, Pyles said. Pearls in the hair, according to the rules, were not allowed. So, despite four previous matches with the pearls, the referee left the choice to Pyles: either remove the pearls or not to play.

“I asked why is this now a problem … and he said it was a rule he couldn’t do anything,” Pyles told CNN.

So Pyles said his teammates gathered, trying to get the beads out of the hair. Because they were so tightly coiled, they had to cut part of the hair in order to remove all of the beads, Pyles said.

“I felt dehumanized,” Pyles said.

Now the Pyles family is trying to change the rule.

“Everyone is hiding behind the rules of the game,” Pyles father Julius Pyles told CNN. “If there was a rule, it should have been applied at the start, (not in) their last game.”

Rule is ‘culturally biased and inappropriate’, says school district

Pyles’s experience is familiar.

In one of the most famous examples, a black high school wrestler in New Jersey was forced to cut his dreadlocks to compete in a tournament, after learning that his hair did not comply with league rules.
In 2020, another black high school student was told that if he didn’t cut his dreadlocks to comply with the district dress code, he wouldn’t be able to walk after graduation. And there have been similar incidents across the country.

Julius Pyles says he has contacted several people with Durham Public Schools and the North Carolina High School Athletic Association. Although the DPS publicly supported Pyles, the NCHSAA did not.

“Durham Public Schools support our students’ right to free speech and oppose unreasonable or biased restrictions on black women’s hairstyles,” the district said in a statement Wednesday of the April game. . “We believe the general ban on hair beads is culturally biased and problematic. We support our student, Nicole Pyles, and believe this rule should be changed.”

The district then encouraged the NCHSAA and the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), of which the NCHSAA is a member and thus dictates the rules of high school sports in North Carolina, to review the policy, calling it “culturally biased. and inappropriate. “

The rule could be tackled next month, according to a national organization

But NCHSAA commissioner Que Tucker said the rule was “not new.”
“When the violation was found by an arbitrator, the correct determination of the illegal equipment was verified as supported by the NFHS rule,” she said in a statement to CNN. “In addition, under NFHS Softball Rule 3-5-1, before the start of a bout, it is the responsibility of each coach to verify with the plate umpire that all of their players are legally equipped, and that players and equipment comply with all NFHS rules. “

Tucker called the experience “really unfortunate,” but said the coach’s duty is to make sure players know the rules before they play.

The rule regarding pearls in hair was first enacted in 2012, according to Karissa Niehoff, executive director of the NFHS. It was instituted to “minimize the risk of injury” to athletes during competition, the organization said.

Although the NFHS has not said whether the rule will be changed, Niehoff said the NFHS Softball Rules Committee “will deal with hair beads and other adornments at its annual meeting next month.”

A college student was forced to cut her hair during a softball game after learning she was breaking the rules, she says.

The rule as it stands, however, is discriminatory, said Julius Pyles.

“It is 2021, and now my child is part of something that should be dead and gone. I did not serve this country and then be discriminated against,” said Julius Pyles, a veteran.

Durham, one of North Carolina’s largest cities, has already passed an ordinance banning hair discrimination in the workplace, modeled on the CROWN Act, a bill passed by the state legislature that would make it illegal to capillary discrimination. And while Durham Public Schools supported the resolution, it only applies to workplaces.


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