Juashuana Kelly elected not to run at an indoor meet last week. Ms. Kelly, a devout Muslim, did not run because officials had told her that her multi colored undergarment violated rule 4-3-1-d. They suggested that she change the garment to single color, which would have not violated the rule and would have also been an approved alternative living up to her Muslim faith. Ms. Kelly chose not to run. The rumor mill, being what it is, had noted that the young women was being treated differently due to her Muslim faith.
This, thankfully, was not the case. I have given space here for the NFHS to clear up an controversy on the rule and would welcome a comment from Ms. Kelly or her coach as well. In this country, Ms. Kelly has the right to compete or not compete, and we hope that she does take advantage of that right in the future.
Our sports, and our schools are supposed to be places where kids can feel safe and respected. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. It seems, in my mind, that this situation was due to some type of miscommunication. We would welcome any comments.
NFHS Responds to Maryland Track Situation
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Becky Oakes
INDIANAPOLIS, IN (January 17, 2008) - Last Saturday, Juashuanna Kelly, a runner on the girls track team at Theodore Roosevelt High School in Washington, D.C., elected not to compete in the Montgomery Invitational indoor track and field meet in Maryland after meet officials advised her that she would need to replace her undergarment because it violated track and field playing rules published by the National Federation of State High School Association (NFHS).
The NFHS issues the following statement regarding this incident:
"The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), the national leadership organization for high school sports and fine arts activities, writes playing rules in 17 sports for boys and girls competition at the high school level, including track and field.
"Rule 4-3-1-d of the NFHS Track and Field and Cross Country Rules Book states that 'Any visible garment(s) worn underneath the uniform top or bottom shall be a single, solid color and unadorned except for 1) a single school name or insignia no more than 2¼ square inches with no dimension more than 2¼ inches and 2) a single, visible manufacturer's logo as per NFHS rules.'
"Using preventive officiating, meet officials at the Montgomery Invitational checked uniforms prior to the events to make sure they complied with NFHS uniform rules. Since Kelly's one-piece undergarment was multi-colored (blue, orange, white), it was in violation of the uniform rules. The meet officials did not disqualify Kelly; they informed her she would have to replace the multi-colored undergarment with a single-colored undergarment, an option which she declined and, thus, did not compete.
"The head covering, which was a part of Kelly's one-piece undergarment, nor the length of the undergarment were in violation of NFHS rules. She could have worn the same style of undergarment, with a head covering, as long as the undergarment was one color throughout the entire piece of clothing. The NFHS track uniform rule was put in place for consistency across the board and for ease in identifying runners at the finish line. Multi-colored undergarments cause greater identification problems for track officials.
"The track uniform is a point of emphasis by the NFHS this year in an effort to have more consistent and widespread enforcement of the rule. Because of her Muslim faith, there were reports that her uniform undergarment was ruled unacceptable on religious grounds. While Kelly's faith requires her to cover all parts of the body except her hands and face, a single-colored undergarment with a hood would have been acceptable both from an NFHS rules standpoint as well as meeting the requirements of her Muslim faith.
PO Box 690
Indianapolis, IN 46206
e-mail: [email protected]