LOS ANGELES – A high school girls basketball team wanted to take a stand against breast cancer, but quickly fell victim to league rules.
The Narbonne High School team took to the floor in its “Think Pink” uniforms and won a close game against View Park, 57-52, in the semifinal game.
But because the team’s white and pink color scheme was not approved, the team was forced to forfeit the game and was disqualified from the remainder of the tournament.
“Everybody’s baffled, it just doesn’t make sense,” coach Victoria Sanders tells the Daily Breeze. “If you’re going to punish someone, punish me. I’ll take it. Tell me I can’t coach the game, but don’t take it away from the girls.”
The paper reports Article 1305 in the L.A. City Section Goldbook states, “Uniform colors may only be a combination of the official school colors as listed in the Board of Managers Gold Book.”
The school did not obtain a waiver and the uniforms were deemed “illegal.”
City Section Commissioner John Aguirre slammed the team and its attempted gesture.
“Breast cancer awareness is in October, and there’s a process for people to request color change,” he says. “If they’re going to blatantly disregard these rules and regulations, they’re going to affect kids.”
— Tom Moore (@tfmoore) March 3, 2015
“Uniform colors may only be a combination of the official school colors. Pink is not a school color at Narbonne. Penalties will include probation and forfeiture of contents,” the California Interscholastic Federation says in a statement, according to ABC 7.
“I was outraged when I heard the news,” says Chris Cuaron, who has a daughter on the offending team.
“As I got a chance to read the rule I understood what it said, but what angered me even more is they allowed the girls to play in those uniforms in the first game. The officials had the opportunity to say, ‘Hey, you guys can’t wear that’ and they never did.”
The players can’t believe a positive gesture could backfire so badly.
“At first I thought it was a joke, but it’s completely devastating to have it end like this,” Narbonne All-City guard Latecia Smith tells the Daily Breeze. “The punishment seems so harsh when it’s not the players’ fault. If we had known, we would have never disregarded the rules.”
Even the team poised to take on Narbonne feels bad for them.
“It has nothing to do with us, it’s nothing we did, but you feel torn apart for the young ladies who won’t be able to participate,” Palisades coach Torino Johnson says. “But as a coach and leader we have rules and have to be held accountable to those rules.”
UPDATE: The school appealed the ruling and has been reinstated, according to USA Today.