A high school in Northern California has banned the boys and girls basketball teams of a competing school from wearing "I Can't Breathe" T-shirts during the warm-ups of an upcoming tournament, AP reports. This comes after nearly a month of protests over a New York grand jury's decision not to indict the cop responsible for the death of Eric Garner. Since then, a slew of NBA players have donned shirts inspired by Garner's last words, but it seems free speech is harder to come by when you play for a school.
The athletic director of Fort Bragg High School told those at Mendocino High School this week that the teams would not be allowed to complete in the 3-day tournament. Ultimately, all but one of the players on the boys' team agreed not to wear the shirts and were thus reinstated. The sole player who is opting to sit out during the tournament is 16-year-old Marc Woods.
"This is completely a First Amendment issue," he said. "That's why I'm offended."
On the other hand, those at Fort Bragg High School maintain that the ban is being enforced for the well-being of everyone. Principal Rebecca Walker wrote a statement explaining her "logic" behind the ban:
"To protect the safety and well-being of all tournament participants it is necessary to ensure that all political statements and or protests are kept away from this tournament ... We are a small school district that simply does not have the resources to ensure the safety and well-being of our staff, students and guests at the tournament should someone get upset and choose to act out."
And then there's Caedyn Feehan, who's the coach of the girls' basketball team. You'll never believe the words she actually said.
"I didn't even know what it meant. I thought it was a joke about how I had conditioned them so hard," she told AP.
[via Yahoo! News]